There are two noteworthy articles in Budget Travel Online. The first, titled "Those free bikes in Europe, you can't use 'em", is about JCDecaux's programs in Paris and Lyon. As the bike-sharing kiosks only accept credit and debit cards with specific chips in them, tourists from North America have not been able to use the bikes. I experienced this in Lyon when I visited, however, the chief of Velo'v was kind enough to buy me a card to test the system as my American Express card with a chip didn't work.
I don't believe this was done intentionally to block out N. American tourists, but rather an oversight. Having both smartcard targets AND credit card swipes on each kiosk raises the cost of the kiosk. Bicing in Barcelona does have both, however, the the swipe is presently disabled so only residents can use the system. I believe the powers that be didn't want the system overwhelmed by tourists above the overwhelming response it was receiving from residents.
I hope JCDecaux can retify this problem quickly as it's North Americans more than Europeans who need to see how great bike-sharing programs are and spread their growth to our shores. Europeans are already sold on the concept as proven by the many programs in existence and in planning stages.
The second article, titled "Rent a Bike in Europe for Nearly Nothing", discusses the cities with tourist-friendly bike-sharing programs and the costs of each.
image credit: Mairie de Paris