Bicycle sharing system


Bicycle sharing system
White bicycles for free use, in Hoge Veluwe national park, the Netherlands
Capital Bikeshare services Washington, D.C and Arlington, Virginia
Helsinki city bikes
Bicisanvi, San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain
Barclays Cycle Hire, London, UK started in 2010
A Vélib' station with bicycles, Paris
Bixi in Montreal, Canada
A Vélopop' station, Avignon, France
Vélivert, Saint-Étienne, France
Libélo, Valence, Drôme
Denver B-cycle Station Denver, Colorado

A bicycle sharing system is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals who do not own them. Bicycle sharing systems can be divided into two general categories: "Community Bike programs" organized mostly by local community groups or non-profit organizations; and "Smart Bike programs" implemented by government agencies, sometimes in a public-private partnership. The central concept of these systems is to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorized public transportation or private vehicles, thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution. Bicycle sharing systems have also been cited as a way to solve the "last mile" problem and connect users to public transit networks.[1]

Public bike sharing programs remove some of the primary disadvantages to owning a bike, including loss from theft or vandalism, lack of parking or storage, and maintenance requirements.[2] However, by limiting the number of places where bicycles can be rented or returned, the service itself essentially becomes a form of public transportation and therefore may be less convenient than owning a bicycle.[3] Government-run bicycle sharing programs can also prove costly to the public unless subsidised by commercial interests, typically in the form of advertising on stations or the bicycles themselves.[4]

It has been estimated that as of 2010, there were more than 200 such schemes operating worldwide.[5]

Contents

Types

Although users of such systems generally pay to use vehicles that they themselves do not own, sharing systems differ from traditional for-profit bike rental businesses. The first bike sharing projects were largely initiated by local community organizations, either as charitable projects intended for the disadvantaged, or to promote bicycles as a non-polluting form of transportation. In recent years, in an effort to reduce losses from theft and vandalism, many bike sharing schemes now require a user to provide a monetary deposit or other security, or to become a paid subscriber. Most large-scale urban bike sharing programs utilize numerous bike checkout stations, and operate much like public transit systems, catering to tourists and visitors as well as local residents.

To date, no publicly-owned and administered bicycle sharing program has yet been able to consistently operate as a self-funding enterprise, using only revenues generated from membership subscriptions or user fees and charges. As a consequence, most publicly-owned bicycle sharing systems utilize funding from public governmental and/or charitable sources. Bike sharing schemes may be administered by government entities, nonprofit private organizations, or via public-private partnerships.

Many bicycle sharing schemes have been developed by a variety of organizations over the years, all based on one or more of the following systems:

Unregulated
In this type of program the bicycles are simply released into a city or given area for use by anyone. In some cases, such as a university campus, the bicycles are only designated for use within certain boundaries. Users are expected to leave the bike unlocked in a public area once they reach their destination. Because the bike is not required to be returned to a centralized station, ready availability of such bicycles is rare, and since unlocked bikes may be taken by another user at any time, the original rider is forced to find alternative transportation for the return trip. Bicycle sharing programs without locks, user identification, and security deposits have also historically suffered large loss rates from theft and vandalism.
Deposit
A small cash deposit releases the bike from a locked terminal and can only be retrieved by returning it to another. Since the deposit (usually one or more coins) is a fraction of the bike's cost, this does little to deter theft. Other bike sharing programs have implemented rules requiring the user to provide a valid credit card, along with substantial security deposits for bicycles and mandatory security locks.
Membership
In this version of the program, bicycles are kept either at volunteer-run hubs or at self-service terminals throughout the city. Individuals registered with the program identify themselves with their membership card (or by a smart card, via cell phone, or other methods) at any of the hubs to check out a bicycle for a short period of time, usually three hours or less. In many schemes the first half-hour is free. The individual is responsible for any damage or loss until the bike is returned to another hub and checked in. Many of the membership programs are being operated through public-private partnerships. Several European cities, including the French cities of Lyon and Paris as well as London, Barcelona, Stockholm and Oslo, have signed contracts with private advertising agencies (JCDecaux in Brussels, Lyon, Paris, Seville and Dublin; Clear Channel in Stockholm, Oslo, Barcelona, Perpignan and Zaragoza) that supply the city with thousands of bicycles free of charge (or for a minor fee). In return, the agencies are allowed to advertise both on the bikes themselves and in other select locations in the city. These programs attempt to reduce losses from theft by requiring users to purchase subscriptions with a credit card or debit card (this option requiring a large, temporary deposit) and by equipping the bike with complex anti-theft and bike maintenance sensors. If the bike is not returned within the subscription period, or returned with significant damage, the bike sharing operator withdraws money from the user's credit card account. Some other programs are not linked to an advertising deal, for example Smoove with Vélomagg' in Montpellier, Vélopop' in Avignon, Libélo in Valence and Vélivert in Saint-Étienne but can be financed by public support.

Long-term checkout

Sometimes known as Bike Library models, these bicycles may be lent free of charge, for a refundable deposit, or for a small fee. A bicycle is checked out to one person who will typically keep the bike for several months, and is encouraged or obligated to lock it between uses. A disadvantage of this system is a lower usage frequency, around three uses per day on average as compared to 10 to 15 uses per day typically experienced with other bike sharing schemes.

Advantages of long-term use include rider familiarity with the bicycle and a mode of travel that is always nearby and instantly ready for use. The bicycle can be checked out like a library book, a liability waiver can be collected at check-out, and the bike can be returned any time. A Library Bike in a person's possession can be chosen for some trips instead of a car, thus lowering car usage. The long-term rental system generally results in fewer repair costs to the scheme administrator, as riders are incentivised to obtain minor maintenance in order to keep the bike in running order during the long rental period. Most of the long-term systems implemented to date are funded solely through charitable donations of secondhand bicycles, using unpaid volunteer labor to maintain, and administer the bicycle fleet. While reducing or eliminating the need for public funding, such a scheme imposes an outer limit to program expansion. The Arcata Community Library Bike Program of Arcata, California has loaned over 4000 bicycles using this system.

Partnership with public transport sector

In a national-level programme that combines a typical rental system with several of the above system types, a passenger railway operator or infrastructure manager partners with a national cycling organization and others to create a system closely connected with public transport. These programs usually allow for a longer rental time of up to 24 or 48 hours, as well as tourists and round trips. In some German cities the national rail company offers a bike rental service called Call a Bike.

In Guangzhou in China, the widely praised bus rapid transit system, under a private operator, is combined with bike lanes and a public bike system with 5,000 bikes.[6]

Partnership with car park operators

Some car park operators such as Vinci Park in France lend bikes to their customers who park a car.[7]

Operations

Many of the community-run bicycle programs paint their bicycles in a strong solid colour, such as yellow or white. Painting the bicycles helps to advertise the program, as well as deter theft (a painted-over bicycle frame is normally less desirable to a buyer). However, theft rates in many bike sharing programs remain extremely high, as most shared-use bikes have value only as basic transportation, and may be resold to unsuspecting buyers after being cleaned and repainted. In response, some large-scale bike sharing programs have designed their own bike using specialty frame designs and other parts to prevent disassembly and resale of stolen parts.

Another advantage of bike sharing systems is that the smart cards allow the bikes to be returned to any station in the system, which facilitates one-way rides to work, education or shopping centres. Thus, one bike may take 10-15 rides a day with different users and can be ridden up to 10,000 km (6,200 mi) a year (citing Lyon, France). The distance between stations is only 300–400 metres (980–1,300 ft) in inner city areas.

It was found—in cities like Paris and Copenhagen—that to have a major impact there had to be a high density of available bikes. Copenhagen has 2500 bikes which cannot be used outside the 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) zone of the city centre (a fine of DKr 1000 applies to any user taking bikes across the canal bridges around the periphery). Since Paris's Vélib' program operates with an increasing fee past the free first half hour, users have a strong disincentive to take the bicycles out of the city centre.

History

European programs

The earliest well-known community bicycle program was started in the 1960s by Luud Schimmelpenninck in association with the radical group Provo in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.[8] This so-called White Bicycle Plan provided free bicycles that were supposed to be used for one trip and then left for someone else. Within a month, most of the bikes had been stolen and the rest were found in nearby canals.[9] The program is still active in some parts of the Netherlands (the Hoge Veluwe National Park; bikes have to stay inside the park). It originally existed as one in a series of White Plans proposed in the street magazine produced by the anarchist group PROVO.

Years later, Schimmelpenninck admitted that "the Sixties experiment never existed in the way people believe" and that "no more than about ten bikes" had been put out on the street "as a suggestion of the bigger idea". As the police had temporarily confiscated all of the White Bicycles within a day of their release to the public, the White Bicycle experiment had actually lasted less than one month.[10]

In 1974 the French city of La Rochelle launched a free bike-sharing program, Vélos Jaunes (Yellow Bikes), featuring unisex bicycles that were free to take and use. In terms of public usage and acceptance, it is regarded today as one of the first truly successful bike sharing programs. The program continues today, albeit in modified form (rental charges apply after the first two hours, and personal identification is required for all bike rentals).

In 1993, a Green Bike Scheme bike sharing program was initiated in Cambridge, United Kingdom, using a fleet of some 300 bicycles. The overwhelming majority of the fleet were stolen within a year of the program's introduction, and the Green Bike Scheme was abandoned.[11]

In 2001, the not-for-profit organization BiCyBa released White Bicycles into public use in Bratislava, Slovakia. During the next three months all the bikes were stolen or destroyed, and the project was cancelled.

In an attempt to overcome losses from theft, the next innovation adopted by bike sharing programs was the use of so-called 'smart technology'. One of the first 'smart bike' programs was the Grippa™ bike storage rack system used in Portsmouth's Bikeabout scheme. Bikeabout was launched in October 1995 by the University of Portsmouth, UK as part of its Green Transport Plan in an effort to cut car travel by staff and students between campus sites. Funded in part by the EU's ENTRANCE[12] program, the Bikeabout scheme was fully automated. For a small fee, users were issued 'smart cards' with magnetic stripes to be swiped through an electronic card reader at a covered 'bike store' kiosk, unlocking the bike from its storage rack. CCT camera surveillance was installed at all bike stations in an effort to limit vandalism. Upon arriving at the destination station, the smart card was used to open a cycle rack and record the bike's safe return. A charge was automatically registered on the user's card if the bike was returned with damage or if the time exceeded the three hour maximum. In September 1997, another Grippa™ rack-based public share system was established as a pilot project in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, for the use of commuters, but was terminated the following year due to poorly functioning electronic bike racks.[13] The Portsmouth Bikeabout scheme was never very successful in terms of rider usage,[14] in part due to the limited number of bike kiosks and hours of operation. Seasonal weather restrictions and concerns over unjustified charges for bike damage also imposed barriers to usage. The Bikeabout program was discontinued by the University in 1998 in favor of expanded minibus service; the total costs of the Bikeabout program were never disclosed.[15][16]

Other bike sharing systems were evolving to reduce operating overhead expenses, as well as find other sources of funding. The first system of this 'generation' was Copenhagen's Bycyklen København or City Bikes, launched in 1995. Copenhagen City Bikes was the first large-scale urban bike share program featuring specially-designed bikes with parts that could not be used on other bikes. To obtain a bicycle, riders pay a refundable deposit at one of 100 special locking bike stands, and have unlimited use of the bike within a specified 'city bike zone'.[17] The fine for not returning a bicycle or leaving the bike sharing zone exceeds US $150, and is strictly enforced by the Copenhagen police. Originally, the program's founders hoped to completely finance the program by selling advertising space on the bicycles, which was placed on the bike's frame and its solid disc-type wheels. This funding source quickly proved to be insufficient, and the city of Copenhagen took over the administration of the program, funding most of the program costs through appropriations from city revenues along with contributions from corporate donors. Since the City Bikes program is free to the user, there is no return on the capital invested by the municipality, and a considerable amount of public funds must constantly be re-invested to keep the system in service, to enforce regulations, and to replace missing bikes.

CityBikes of Helsinki, Finland used a similar pay-through-advertising scheme adopted by Copenhagen's ByCylken, with distinctive yellow-green bicycles available at over 26 stands for a €2 deposit, refundable at any other stand. While this model of financing free community bike sharing program has since spread to other cities, a lack of advertisers combined with constraints on public funding assistance resulted in a projected deficit of over EUR 1 million for Helsinki CityBikes. In both Copenhagen and Helsinki, vandalism continued to be a major aggravating factor in program costs, requiring continual replacement of unrepairable bicycles at a cost of nearly EUR 400. Because of these factors, Helsinki CityBikes terminated operations in 2010.

A clear disadvantage of municipal bike sharing programs as implemented by Copenhagen and Helsinki have been the significant additional costs imposed due to bicycle theft and vandalism, resulting in additional law enforcement monitoring and more frequent bike repair/replacement. Because traditional municipal deposit programs are not IT-based and do not contain tracking devices, the bikes must be designed as theft deterrents: very heavy, single-speed machines with proprietary components and undesirable paint schemes.

The launch of Velo'v in Lyon, France in 2005 was an effort to improve on the performance of the traditional municipal public bike sharing model. Building on the experiences of the Portsmouth Bikeabout program, Velo'v also utilized technology to reduce losses from theft, user damage, and vandalism. Considered to be a city less than friendly to cyclists prior to 2005, the Velo'v program is credited with stimulating an increase of 500% in bicycle trips within the city, a quarter of which were due to the bike sharing system.[18][19] Velo'v introduced a number of innovations that were later copied by Paris's Vélib' and most other municipal bike sharing programs, including the use of electronic locks, smart cards, telecommunication systems, and onboard computers.

North American programs

United States programs

One of the first community bicycle projects in the United States was started in Portland, Oregon in 1994 by civic and environmental activists Tom O'Keefe, Joe Keating and Steve Gunther. It took the approach of simply releasing a number of bicycles to the streets for unrestricted use. Portland's Yellow Bike Project was an amazing publicity success, but proved unsustainable due to theft and vandalism of the bicycles. The Yellow Bike Project was eventually terminated, and replaced with the Create A Commuter program, which provides free secondhand bicycles to certain preselected low-income and disadvantaged people who need a bicycle to get to work or attend job training courses.[20] Since 1994, many community projects around the country have attempted programs similar in nature to the Yellow Bike Project, most of which have since been abandoned.

In 1996, a pilot bicycle share project known as the Orange Bike Project was organized in Tucson, Arizona by Bootstraps to Share, a homeless advocacy organization inspired by the Bikes Not Bombs movement. Using funds from a taxpayer-funded government grant to obtain, recondition, and maintain 30 bicycles, project organizers announced plans to station the bicycles in downtown Tucson and areas adjacent to the University of Arizona. The publicly-shared bicycles, painted bright orange by Earl Scheib to identify them, were primarily intended for use by the homeless or those without means of affordable transportation. The initial 30 bicycles placed into service for the Orange Bike Project were all stolen within a few weeks. A total of 80 bicycles were eventually used in the Orange Bike Project, all of which were either stolen or vandalized beyond repair. In one case, an Orange Bike Project bicycle was thrown in front of a freight train, in others, bikes were found with major frame damage consistent with deliberate vandalism. The program was terminated after only five months of operation.[21][22]

In 1996, Madison, Wisconsin, instituted its Red Bikes Project, a public bike sharing program. These red-painted bicycles were available for the use of the general public, primarily in the student areas of State Street between the University of Wisconsin campus and the Wisconsin State Capitol. Initially, the only rule regarding the use of a Red Bike was that the bike was required to remain outside and unlocked, and available for any passerby. After a surge in bicycle thefts and vandalism, the program was modified to require a valid credit card and $80 in security deposits for both the bicycle and the included bicycle lock.[23] The program is now only available seasonally, from spring (when all snow has melted) to November 30.[24]

Canadian programs

From 2001 to 2006, BikeShare, operated by the Community Bicycle Network (CBN) in Toronto, was for a time the most popular community bicycle sharing program in North America. Its initial success inspired launches of large-scale bike sharing programs such as Washington, D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare and Montreal's Bixi. BikeShare was intended to overcome some of the theft issues by requiring yearly memberships to sign out any of the 150 refurbished yellow bikes locked up at 16 hubs throughout central Toronto. At its height, over 400 members could sign out a bike from any hub for up to 3 days. The hubs were located at stores, cafes and community centres where the staff would volunteer their time to sign bikes out and in.[25] Despite steadily increasing administrative, implementation, and maintenance costs, CBN could only charge users around 20% of actual costs, as users were unlikely to spend more than $50 per year for a membership. Without sufficient funds in the form of private and government grants, CBN was forced to discontinue BikeShare in 2006.[26]

From 2005 to 2008, a largely unregulated bike sharing program was operated by the Peoples' Pedal organization in Edmonton, Alberta. The program suffered from high theft and vandalism rates, with 95% of the bikes placed into service stolen by 2008.[27] The program was terminated the same year.

Canada's largest bike share system is Bixi Montreal, which started operation in May 2009. It has since expanded to over 5000 bicycles at 405 stations. The Bixi design has since been exported to other cities and has been used in popular bike share programs such as Washington, D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare.

With 1000 bicycles and 80 stations, Bixi Toronto is the second largest bike share in the country. It opened May 2011, using now-standard Bixi equipment.

Capital Bixi is another Bixi bike share system, serving Ottawa/Gatineau. With 100 bikes and 10 stations, it is the smallest municipal Bixi implementation anywhere in the world.

Current programs

Europe

tBike - bike-sharing and bike-rental in Timisoara, Romania

As of 2004, despite the use of technology to combat theft and vandalism, no publicly-owned and operated smart bike sharing program anywhere in the world had turned a profit in terms of revenues exceeding annual operating costs, let alone repay costs of planning and implementation.[28] The expense of maintaining such programs over the long term has remained the principal objection to their adoption.

Dublin

In September 2009 Dublin launched a bike-share scheme known as Dublinbikes operated by JCDecaux. With an initial 450 bicycles, the plan reached 1 million uses in less than a year.[29]

Paris

A resurgence in bike sharing programs is attributed by many to the launching in 2007 of Paris's Vélib', a network of 20,000 specially designed bicycles distributed among 1450 stations throughout Paris. Vélib’, inspired by Lyon's seminal Vélo'v project, is now considered the second largest bike sharing system of its kind in the world. While the Vélib’ program may be considered a success in terms of rider usage (daily use averages between 50,000 to 150,000 trips), a staggering 80 percent of the original 20,600 bicycles have been destroyed or stolen.[30] Some Vélib’ cycles have been found in Eastern Europe and North Africa, while others have been dumped in the Seine River, hung from lampposts, or abandoned on the roadside in various states of disrepair, forcing the City of Paris to reimburse the program operator an estimated $2 million per year for excess costs under its contractual agreement.[31]

United Kingdom

Some bike sharing schemes now use mobile phones to reserve or sign out bikes. In the UK, OYBike is currently delivering small-scale operations which may grow to this scale organically at 2 Universities, 3 Business Parks, 3 London Boroughs, and a private hotel chain in London. Like Berlin's Call-a-Bike, OYBike uses mobile phone technology to log use and charge for hires and can set up hire points in as little as 10 minutes. Many of the business users can reclaim the cost of leasing bikes and hire points as part of a workplace cycling scheme or green travel plan. Research also reveals that for many major London rail stations an unknown number of the bikes parked are used only a couple of times per week, while the option of replacing these with publicly shared (hire) bikes has rarely been considered by UK rail administrators.

London mayor Boris Johnson promised that an extensive bicycle sharing system modelled on the Paris Vélib' system would be introduced in London during his first term in office. The system is sponsored by Barclays Bank, and known as Barclays Cycle Hire (BCH). BCH is located mainly within the central zone, roughly bounded by the 'Zone 1' area of the Transport for London zoning system, and will comprise 400 docking stations when complete, at roughly 300 metre intervals.[32] BCH initial planning and implementation costs are expected to total more than £140 million over the first six years of the project, exclusive of operating costs. The program commenced operations on 30 June 2010.

North America

In addition to Europe, bike sharing is currently enjoying some popularity in North America. Two of more prominent launches have been a small program started in Washington D.C.,[33] and a much larger program in Montreal, Canada, called Bixi.

Montréal

Bixi Montreal became North America's largest bike sharing system in May 2009. Montreal began a limited pilot project of Bixi bike-sharing bicycles in fall 2008.[34] Bixi is a publicly-funded bike share scheme, designed to encourage locals and tourists to make use of the city's already well-established network of bike paths.[35] The rental bicycles, costing some $2,000 each, are available from depots located throughout the city, where bikes can be rented from automated stations using a credit card.[36] Users must purchase a daily, monthly, or annual subcription, as well as pay additional usage fees for trips lasting longer than 30 minutes. A hold of $250 per bike is validated on the user's credit card upon a request for a subscription, and is kept 3 to 10 working days. The system was expanded twice during 2009, with 5000 bicycles available at 400 depots.[37] Although initial program costs were $15 million for planning and implementation of the Bixi project, subsequent additional costs incurred in expanding the program have driven costs upwards of $23 million dollars.[38][39] In 2008 the Bixi program was ranked by Time Magazine as the 19th best invention in their 50 Best Inventions of 2008.[40][41]

UC-Irvine

Zotwheels Bike Share at the University of California Irvine

In the Fall of 2009, the University of California Irvine introduced its Zotwheels automated bike share program. Students and university employees may sign up for a Zotwheels membership card at an annual cost of $40, which enables the user to check out a bike from any bike station located throughout campus for a maximum of three hours and drop it off at any other station. A $200 charge is imposed for a lost, stolen, or severely damaged bike. Bicycle availability and station operational status may be determined using an interactive map. Revenues from membership fees are sufficient to offset only a small fraction of the total operating costs of the program; all remaining manufacture, installation, maintenance, and implementation costs of the Zotwheels systems and the bicycles themselves are borne by UCI.[42] Zotwheels was developed as a collaboration between the UCI Parking and Transportation Services, The Collegiate Bicycle Company, CSL Ltd, and Miles Data Technologies.

Mexico City

In February 2010 the government of Mexico City inaugurated a new bicycle sharing network called EcoBici.[43] Initially launched with 85 docking stations and 1,000 distinctive red and white liveried bicycles, the network has since expanded and currently stands at 90 stations with 1,200 bicycles. The system is run by a private company, Clear Channel, but[44] funded by the government with an initial investment of 75 million pesos. Users of the system are required to purchase an RFID card at a cost of 300 pesos which will provide them with access to the bicycles for one year. Use of a bicycle is free for the first 45 minutes; extra charges are applied for use beyond this time limit.

Washington, DC

In Washington, D.C., a privately-operated bike sharing project known as SmartBike DC opened for service in 2008 for the District of Columbia. Operated by a private advertising firm, Clear Channel Communications, SmartBike DC's annual operating costs were ostensibly funded by providing Clear Channel with prime advertising space at city bus shelters and other venues along with revenues from user subscription fees and charges.[45] However, the program suffered from perennially low membership and rider usage rates, as well as a limited number of bike rental stations.[46] After D.C. officials and Clear Channel failed to reach an agreement over expanded service, the program was officially terminated in January 2011.[47]

In September 2010 the city of Washington, D.C. introduced its replacement for SmartBike DC, Capital Bikeshare (CaBi). Unlike SmartBike, CaBi is a public taxpayer-supported bicycle sharing program involving both the District of Columbia and Arlington County. The initial scheme involved some 1,100 bicycles at 100 stations located throughout the District of Columbia and parts of Arlington County, Virginia. The cost of planning, implementation and administration for Capital Bikeshare totaled US$5.0 million, with first-year operating costs of $US2.3 million for 100 stations.[48] The District's share of planning, implementation and first-year operating costs was partially financed by a US$6.0 million grant by the United States Department of Transportation. Arlington County's operating cost share of the plan was US$835,000 for the first year,[49] funded by public contributions including a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation as well as subsidies from Arlington County Transportation, Crystal City (Arlington) Business Improvement District, and the Potomac Yard Transportation Management Association.[50] In November 2010, Capital Bikeshare Director Chris Holben stated that administrators were hoping for future project revenues that would reach 50% of annual operating costs, exclusive of planning and implementation expenses.[51] CaBi recently announced plans to expand services with an additional 20 bike stations by spring of 2011.

Miami

In March 2011, DecoBike launched in Miami Beach, Florida.[52] The initial rollout of the program will include "approximately 100 solar-powered stations and 1,000 custom-designed bikes available to residents and visitors."[53] This public bicycle sharing and rental program is owned and operated by DecoBike, LLC, a Miami-based company, and operates under a long-term agreement with the City of Miami Beach. The service is available to both residents and visitors: any adult with a major credit card can check out a bike to pedal to their next location. An iPhone app and an interactive map on the DecoBike website allows one to locate the nearest "station" and displays the number of bikes available and the number of free docking spaces in real-time.

Asia

Bike sharing has also become popular in China. Hangzhou's bike sharing system has 60,600 bikes, surpassing Paris's Vélib program which offers over 20,000 bikes. Bike sharing stations can be found in Hangzhou every 100 meters compared to the 300 meters in Paris. The first hour is free to users in Hangzhou, followed by 1 yuan ($0.15) for the first hour, 2 yuan the second hour, and 3 yuan each additional hour. During their first year operation, no bikes were stolen and very few were damaged or vandalized compared to the half that were stolen or damaged in Paris.[54] In preparation for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China; Shanghai has launched a bike share program which are accessible by RFID cards. Users can purchase 100 ride credits for about $30. Short rides are rewarded credits and longer rides subtract credits once the bikes have been re-docked. Shanghai plans to expand to 3,500 Bicycle Hot Spots throughout the entire city by 2010.[55]

Australia

Example of Melbourne Bike

The first municipal bicycle share system in Australia, Melbourne Bike Share (MBS) was launched in Melbourne in June 2010. MBS and CityCycle in Brisbane, Australia[56] are the only known bicycle share schemes that operate under a mandatory helmet requirement.[57][58][59]

Melbourne

MBS is a publicly-funded scheme based on Montreal's BIXI system and was launched initially with only 10 stations, with the aim of having 50 stations by July 2010. Implementation and planning costs totaled $5.5 million AUD over four years, which required a usage rate of 500 trips per day, or 15,000 per month, for the scheme to break-even.[4][60] During the first week of operation, the system was only used 253 times.[61] This use rate dropped to only 136 times per day by October 2010,[4] for a total of 20,700 trips, with nearly 650 subscribers. The low popularity of the scheme in comparison to other cities[62] has been attributed to Melbourne's mandatory helmet laws, acknowledged by the government, which recently began subsidising helmet purchases at $5 per helmet from local convenience stores and vending machines.[4][59][62] The helmet subsidy added an additional $5 million AUD to the cost of the bike share program.[56] After the introduction of subsidised helmets, MBS bicycle usage rate increased to 183 trips per day.[4] This usage rate increased to 283 trips per day (8,500 trips per month) in December 2010, with another increase to 433 trips per day (13,000 per month) by May 2011.[60] Promotional efforts to advertise MBS have been limited, though mobile phone optimized websites have also been created, such as BikeShare.Tel, allowing users to locate stations and see bike availability.[63] Currently the MBS uses 500 cycles at about 50 stations around Melbourne's central business district.[56]

MELTours launched a bicycle tour based on the MBS within a month of launch as a way to enable tourists to see the city using the MBS and to learn how to use it. The tour was designed around the available MBS pods where each leg is no more than 30 minutes in duration. This means that the cost to the customer is as low as possible while a 2 hour activity can still be taken.[64]

Brisbane

Subscriptions for CityCycle, a Vélib-style community bike hire scheme by JCDecaux for Brisbane started on the 1st September 2010 with bikes planned to available from 1 October 2010 at 150 stations from the University of Queensland to Tenerrife. Currently CityCycle uses 1,000 cycles at 101 locations, with plans to expand to 2,000 cycles at 150 stations by December 2011. Currently Citycycle has no plans to rent helmets to riders, who must carry their own helmets to the station for each journey.[56]

Brisbane City Council Mayor, Graham Quirk conceeded the Citycycle service had "not got off to a flying start". By October 2011 there were 416 trips per day for 1060 bikes available for hire at 104 stations. In mid August 2011, Brisbane City Coucnil cut the daily casual subscription from $11 to $2. There were only 200 $11 daily casual hires in July 2011 and 332 in August 2011. Casual hires jumped up to 1064 in September 2011 in response to the price reduction to $2 per day. Council has also attached 400 free helments to bikes on an honestry basis. JCDecaux Australia chief executive said there was "no doubt" the mandtory use of helmets constrainded the use of the scheme. An $8M investment to establish the citycylce scheme restuled in 80,000 bike trips during the first 12 months. Coucnil is proceeding with expandnig from 104 to 150 stations and increasing bike numbers from 1064 to 2000.[65]

See also

References

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