Saturday, November 7, 2015

Happy 10th Anniversary, MetroBike!

MetroBike is pleased to be celebrating our 10th anniversary this month.

After many years of publishing academic articles on bike-sharing while working on my master’s degree with the hope of someone else bringing bike-share to the shores of the U.S., I became impatient with the wait and knew I had to be the change I wished to see. So in November 2005, I left the safety of a municipal job with benefits to found MetroBike in order to foster bike-sharing’s introduction. MetroBike was the U.S.’s first bike-share consultancy. My parents thought I was crazy. Looking back, I guess I was.

With MetroBike I’ve had the opportunity to assist in founding Capital Bikeshare in the Washington, D.C. region where we serve in a managerial and planning role for two of the system’s municipal owners, having sited 132 of the service’s stations. I’ve enjoyed returning to Copenhagen – the city where I first learned about bike-sharing in 1995 – to help the region modernize the former coin-operated system that helped the world see what bike-share could be on a large-scale. There have been many other non-profit, for-profit, academic, and local and federal government clients over the years. Also, I’ve doubled the size of MetroBike from one to two people – a 100% increase!

While MetroBike isn’t a Fortune 500 company, it’s nice that a small business can help change the world. Thank you to MetroBike’s past and present clients and the folks who have believed in me to bring this crazy little idea of bike-share into their pocket of the world. Thanks also to the readers of The Bike-sharing Blog and The Bike-sharing World Map. It’s wonderful to be able to do something that I love in making bikes available to all for a cleaner and healthier planet. We’re looking forward to the next 10 successful years.


Paul DeMaio
Founder and Principal
MetroBike, LLC
Washington, D.C., USA

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Bike-sharing World - Early Fall 2015

North America

        Chicago Conferences
Swiss Designed Velobility SwissFleet Pedelec
The Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC) and the North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) joint conference had two very interesting Public Use Bicycling (PUB) products on display, both making their North American debut: The Velobility pedelec and the Blaze Safety Laserlight.

Velobility, a Swiss producer of bike systems in service in Europe and the Middle East, showed its new SwissFleet pedelec. One of the most intriguing aspects of this bicycle is it has multiple methods for re-charging its electrical-assist motor. Not only could it be recharged at its conventional powered docking station, but also using a soon-to-be adopted universal EnergyBus connector made for all electric vehicle rechargers which are planned to be widely available in many cities. This could be a game changer. This bike improves upon Velobility's RIDEBOX which the Blog wrote about previously. This feature has an electronic self-contained locking mechanism, the electric-assist motor, battery, and all the electronics. There is an on-bike user keypad interface with RFID, NFC, and smartphone connections for easy operation. More importantly, it's a nice riding bike for PUB service!

The Blaze Laserlight on a London Santander Cycle

The bright spot of the new products was definitely the Blaze Laserlight fitted on a PBSC Urban Solutions bicycle. After a year long process, the developers of Blaze working with Transport for London (TfL) and their operator, SERCO, adapted this safety laser light for use on 250 Santander Cycles in London as a trial. The laser light projects an image of a bicycle on the street 6 meters in front of the bicycle while it is in motion and at night. This makes both pedestrians, other cyclists, and motor vehicles take note of the oncoming cycle hire bicycle. All PUB systems should consider incorporating this device in their fleets.

Here is a video of the Blaze Laserlight:

Stay tuned for more updates, including a report on the recent launch of North America's first municipal pedelec program. Plus a sneak peek of the end of the year data from The Bike-sharing World Map.

If you didn't have a chance to make it to the Chicago Conference mentioned above, there is another event of great interest taking place next month at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA.

A Global Summit Investigating Sustainable Mobility Futures: November 11 -13, 2015 and The Disrupting Mobility Hackathon: November 6 -8, 2015

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Bike-sharing World - Last Week of August 2015

North America
                      Fargo, North Dakota
Great Rides - Photo from the City of Fargo
The small Great Rides B-cycle program accomplished an amazing feat for a North American program this week. According to KRWK, with a mere 101 bikes in 11 stations, the program managed 1,850 rides in one day! 

One metric used to determine the success of a program is how many times, on average, each bike is used in one day. The term for this is 'trips per bike per day' or (TPBPD).
The highest TPBPD CitiBike in New York City claimed is around 11. The occidental world record has been held by DublinBikes in Dublin, Ireland which reported around 15 TPBPD. We won't talk about China, because there are a few cities that have consistently broken out of the teens with their TPBPD. 

Great Rides in Fargo North Dakota has a 18.5 TPBPD! Congratulations! 

Now to be fair, about a third of the Great Ride stations are on the campus of North Dakota State University. All students are eligible to enroll in the program at no charge. There is no fee for the first 30 minutes of each ride on campus or off. This greatly contributes to the program's success. Yes, it is a great ride!

September in Chicago

Move Together: National Shared Mobility Summit

Registration is now open! The 2015 Shared Mobility Summit Move Together will bring transportation and policy leaders from across the country to Chicago on September 28-30, 2015. This is a conference on Shared-Use Mobility and the annual meeting of the North American Bikeshare Association.

If you are interested in starting a Public Use Bicycle program or making one better, consider signing up for Move Together.

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Monday, July 20, 2015

International Bike-share Database

Hey bike-share system owners and operators, this post is for you!

It is said that something doesn’t matter unless it is counted. According to The Bike-sharing World Map, there are nearly 900 bike-share systems worldwide, yet how are the systems performing globally and how is your local system doing? How many trips are being made? How many people have used the service? How many kilometers or miles have the bikes been ridden?

Some bike-share systems make their anonymized ridership data publicly available either as large database files or through a more user-friendly “dashboard” as the Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation has done for Capital Bikeshare (image below). Many rail and bus transit systems have been doing this for much longer than bike-share systems. Now it's time for bike-share to step it up and do an even better job of reporting to show the contributions the industry is making and prove we are here for the long-term, rather than just being a decade-long fad. There is a grace period for infant systems, but as systems mature into adulthood, we need to be doing the same info sharing that other transit systems are providing. In fact, we should do better.

To document this data, the North American Bike-share Association and its members have created the International Bike-share Database to collect and share important information about bike-share services in a user-friendly format for the benefit of its members and the general public. The Database has the goal of being the prime source for bike-share data for comparative purposes for those within the industry, for academic purposes to foster research in the nascent field, and anyone else who cares. Data about participating bike-share systems is provided with its latest fiscal year information, monthly trip and estimated distances, and a glossary of terms to assist the industry develop its vocabulary.

It's rare that a totally new form of transit comes into existence and since bike-share has done so, it needs to follow best practices in the greater transit industry and develop its own best practices within its subset of the transit industry. This is an opportunity to use some of the best practices that pre-existed bike-share and develop specific ones that apply only to us. Most of the folks I know who have come to this industry are coming with a bike background, rather than transit background. This is bringing in lots of new thinking into how to develop the industry. Having an industry-wide resource, such as The International Bike-share Database, is necessary. The Database is similar to the National Transit Database which is for U.S. transit systems, but does not include bike-share... yet.

The Database is starting off small, but will grow as the number of systems in North America grows and evolves. The International Bike-share Database can be found at .

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Unicorn Bike

The term "unicorn bike" came about to describe a marketing campaign for a North American bike-share service, likely Chicago in 2013. It was one bike that had a different color than the rest which made it stand out from the crowd and therefore drew attention to it. Unicorn bikes have been replicated in other services and makes a great marketing tool to generate interest in the system or for events such as D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival as shown in the tweet below.

With Montreal's season launch for 2015, they debuted a family of unicorn bikes. As unicorns aren't real, (or are they?), there isn't a proper term for a grouping of them like a gaggle of geese. I know this because I checked Wikipedia which knows all and is mostly kinda right some of the time. We'll call a grouping of unicorn bikes a "guffaw". You'll see what I mean in the photo below -- so much color, so much smiling and laughter.

Bixi had about 30 specially designed bikes which were a variety of solid colors with designs on the downtube, rack, and mudguard. The bikes are eye-catching and will surely turn heads as folks wonder, "Is that a Bixi?" and then realize the bike's shape is familiar, so it must be.
The "Bike In Bloom" that we use in D.C. during Cherry Blossom season has been very popular with the public with its associated contest which encourages customers to tweet a photo of the bike. A few of the lucky tweeters win prizes, including annual memberships and gifts donated by local businesses.

Does your city have a unicorn bike? Share it with us!

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Bike-sharing World - Special Video - Earth Day Week 2015

North America:

The Mayor might say 7, but this writer has been waiting 9 years for this day!

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with bike-sharing programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Bike-sharing World - Third Week of April 2015

Gobikes on the street in Copenhagen
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The Copenhagen Bycyklen operator, Gobike, has 14 days to complete its contract with the cities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg and the Danish State Railway Company, DBS, according to Danish news source, The Local. If Gobike does not fulfill its promise of 1,860 bicycles and electric charging stations by May 1, 2015 it will be forced into bankruptcy.

Gobike won the contract in 2012 to bring advanced 4th generation bike-sharing to the Copenhagen region, thereby replacing the old 2nd generation service that had existed since 1995. The Gobike bicycle has computer tablets on the handlebar to transact payments, give GPS directions, and facilitate advertising. The bike is also a pedelec -- an electric-assist bicycle. About 420 of the bikes are in operation currently in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, but the contract has not yet been satisfied as this amounts to only 23% of the full number of bikes required. Many of Gobike's problems stem from its bicycle manufacturing supplier, MIFA, which had financial problems preventing bike manufacture.

Gobike Tablet Computer
The Gobike experiment is a giant step forward for bike-sharing with all of the transit interconnection and mapping features that it introduced for bike-sharing in the 21st century. Even if it stumbles, the future of bike-sharing has begun to roll in the same direction.

Let's see what May brings to Copenhagen.

UPDATE: Gobike is given until mid-October 2015 to complete the build out of the system with the full complement of bikes as contracted: The Local dk

News in Danish: DRdk, Computerworld and DRdk

Images: The Bike-sharing Blog

Russell Meddin 

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with bike-sharing programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Bike-sharing World -The First Week of April 2015.


The flowers are starting to burst into colors in the Northern Hemisphere and leaves are turning into bright colors in the Southern Hemisphere all to celebrate the World-wide Bike-sharing Fleet reaching over 1,000,000 bicycles.

The Bike-sharing World Map,, monitors the movement of automated public use bicycle systems all over the world. In its end of the year summary report for December 2014 (see here) fleet size was inching up to the one million mark.

World-wide fleet December 31, 2014

Since the beginning of 2015, 18 new cities have launched programs and many are coming out of the winter months with bigger fleets. This has pushed the total of bicycles used in automated public systems to over one million!

The question now is, how to celebrate this achievement? 
It is easy, use this momentous day to take a ride on one of these million bikes.

Russell Meddin 

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with bike-sharing programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Bike-sharing World -Second Week of February 2015

North America:
   Mexico City:
The largest bike-sharing program in the Americas

For its 5th year anniversary on February 16, Ecobici in Mexico City enters its forth phase expansion with the opening of 171 new stations with an additional 2,300 bikes in the Bonito Juárez section of the City. This makes Ecobici the largest bike-share program in the Americas. Claiming 6,500 bikes in 444 stations this week, Mexico City topples the bike-share North American leaders of New York City, Montréal, and D.C.

Happy Anniversary Ecobici!

images: Ecobici: Mancera

Russell Meddin 

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with bike-sharing programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Arlington County Residents Can Pay With Cash for Membership & Usage Fees on Capital Bikeshare

A common complaint about bike-sharing is that one needs to have a credit or debit card in order to use the service, which is not the case with most public transit. However, unlike other modes of transit that accept cash, the customer is not given the key to the vehicle and ability to drive it away. With bike-share bikes costing upwards of $1,000, bike-share services typically require customers provide their credit or debit card upon registration so that the operator has recourse for the replacement cost of a bike in the rare event that a customer does not return their bike. The unintended consequence of this is that the unbanked – those who do not have a checking/savings account or credit/debit card – are unable to use the service. One can be unbanked due to a past history of poor credit or because they have chosen to not use these financial institutions in favor of check cashing establishments to better meet their needs. Regardless of why they are unbanked, the unbanked need access to bike-share as it’s one of the most economical modes of transport, as well as healthy for the rider and good for the environment.
Capital Bikeshare’s owner jurisdictions have encouraged the unbanked to get banked through our relationship with Bank on DC, which provides a checking account and debit card to individuals through local financial institutions. Customers also get $25 off of the annual membership price of $75. But more is needed to open Capital Bikeshare to the unbanked.
Arlington County has developed a solution for its residents to pay with cash for a bike-share membership and usage fees – likely the first of its kind in North America. Arlington will vouch for its residents, so that they don’t need to provide a credit or debit card. We will do this through our Commuter Stores, owned by Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) which has five Commuter Stores which sell transit fare passes; and provide transit, carpooling, vanpooling, biking, and walking information. Four of the Commuter Stores are "brick and mortar" shops and one is an RV (Commuter Store on wheels) with a weekly schedule. The Commuter Stores started providing walk-up Capital Bikeshare membership registrations in May 2014 where the membership fob is provided on-the-spot, so would-be customers need not wait the 5 – 7 days to receive their fob in the mail as with the standard online registration.
The Commuter Store’s accounting system allows cash to be accepted due to its transit pass sales business. Now Arlington residents can visit any Commuter Store location with a current government-issued photo ID with their Arlington address shown, such as a driver's license. Or they can show their passport, Permanent Resident Card (“green card”), or Employment Authorization Card (work permit), along with a copy of a utility bill dated within the past 60 days with their name and Arlington address. The Commuter Store representative will verify the individual’s identity and assist them in signing up for an annual membership with monthly installments ($84/year and paid as $7/month) or annual membership ($75 and paid at once).
An account can be opened with as little as $16 in cash towards the standard price of an annual membership with monthly installments. This covers the $7 per month membership fee for two months plus usage fees for trips beyond the first 30 minutes which are at no additional charge. Another option is paying $100 in cash for the annual membership cost of $75, and the remaining $25 will be used towards usage fees.
Credit reports will be sent weekly by the Commuter Stores, as will debit reports be sent weekly by the operator, Motivate (former Alta Bicycle Share), to Arlington’s Capital Bikeshare program manager. The credits and debits will require manual tabulation presently, but improvements in the bikeshare system’s back-end will allow this to be automated in the near future. When a customer's account goes below $2, the County will contact the individual to add more money to their account. At $0, their account will be closed until more money is added, with any month's missed membership fee paid for as well.
This solution should work well for Arlingtonians over the next year during this pilot. It’s a step in the right direction for Arlington and Capital Bikeshare and better addresses bike-share’s equity issues. More can and will be done to assist low-income Arlingtonians use the service by building on top of the Commuter Store’s bikeshare customer registration and now cash acceptance for payment. This solution is not a one-size-fits-all for other bike-share municipalities and operators, but hopefully this step will lead to more innovation in assisting the unbanked use bike-share services nationwide.
MetroBike serves as Arlington County's Capital Bikeshare program management consultant.
Article cross-posted on