Sunday, December 30, 2007

What a Year for Bike-sharing

What a year for bike-sharing and The Bike-sharing Blog. When I started researching bike-sharing in 1995, it was considered a wacky idea that was only in use at that time in Copenhagen, Denmark. When I shared this 2nd generation ("low tech") idea with folks once I returned home, the usual reply I heard was that it sounded like a good idea, but it would only work in a socialist country like Denmark. Anywhere else, they claimed, bike-sharing would fail miserably.


Bike-sharing has spread considerably since then with there being more than 60 programs in existence with likely hundreds more in planning from what I hear and see through my bike-sharing business, MetroBike LLC. And what a year for bike-sharing 2007 was! Here we are at the end of the year and bike-sharing is becoming a commonly understood concept that has captured the minds of folks from around the world. Bike transit is spreading fast. (Did the subway concept spread as fast when it was invented over 100 years ago?) With Bicing and then Velib' having launched in the spring and summer, international attention was focused on the formerly wacky idea which has now made it mainstream in Europe and hopefully the same will be true in North America, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America in 2008. I know of efforts underway on most continents for bike-sharing.

Hopefully, The Bike-sharing Blog has assisted with the spread of information and lead to getting more programs up-and-running. I see folks from around the world are reading the Blog. They are average citizens and elected officials from the local, state/provincial, and national level. I've received questions from many and have been informed about what's going on where they live by readers. Keep those emails about bike-sharing programs coming in from your corner of the world!

When I started this blog in May of this year, I didn't have any clue just how popular it would become. It was being viewed by a few people each day then, but now the Blog is being viewed much more and by an international audience. I'm glad it's been a useful service and I plan to continue writing it.

If your city, town, campus, etc. has yet to develop its own bike-sharing program, write your local elected officials and tell them about this great idea. Let's get everyone on a bike in 2008. It's but one of the many ways we can save this tiny planet of ours.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2008!


Paul DeMaio
MetroBike LLC
Washington, DC

Cemusa's Bike-sharing Program Video

Outdoor advertiser Cemusa has been a late comer on the bike-sharing front and accordingly the public generally is not familiar with it. However, with the recent partnership with Bicincitta' on the Rome bike-sharing program and now, with the development of its own bike-sharing technology, it appears Cemusa has gotten itself a foothold.

Cemusa has developed its own bike-sharing technology as is shown on a video on YouTube entitled "Cemusa Bicycle Sharing Program". The technology is station-based and requires a smartcard for access. The bicycles and stations look similar to JCDecaux and Clear Channel programs. An improvement is that one bollard can unlock two bikes. This should equate to a cost savings in manufacture and construction, as fewer bollards need to be built and installed than JCDecaux's 4th generation Cyclocity technology which is in-use in Paris.

Warning: The background music is catchy and may cause your foot to tap.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bike-Sharing Is Caring

An article in today's In These Times, titled "Bike-sharing is Caring" by Adam Doster, discusses the popularity of bike-sharing abroad and now in the U.S.

"Bike-sharing fever has even spread to the United States, a country lacking a robust bike culture but one where car-sharing has thrived and biking is becoming more mainstream. In San Francisco, the city Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a contract with Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. that would establish a bike-sharing program in return for advertising rights on transit shelters. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley visited Paris in September to test the Vélib in action and is considering a similar program for the Windy City. New York City, Portland and Washington, D.C. officials have also expressed interest."

In fact, D.C.'s "SmartBike" program is expected to launch in April/May 2008. Hang in there for updates.

Car-sharing has indeed expanded rapidly across the U.S. in just a few years. The recently merged Zipcar and Flexcar started up in 1999-2000 and now serve over 40 locations. I believe that bike-sharing could maintain this same pace.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bike Share Philadelphia Forum

The Bike Share Philadelphia Forum is scheduled for Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 6:30 PM at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Event speakers are to include:

Gilles Vesco, Vice-président Communauté urbaine de Lyon, France, who will speak about Velo'v;
Mitch Franzos, President of THG, who will speak about the Dasani Blue Bike program; and
- Nate Kvamme, Director of the Partnership Strategy Innovation Center of Humanna who will speak about Freewheelin'.

The event is being planned by Urban Sustainability Forums, Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

RSVPs are requested by

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

King County (WA) Releases Request for Information

King County, Washington has released a Request for Information for a bike-sharing program in the Seattle area. The due date is January 22, so hurry up.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Anti-competitive or Too Successful?

As reported in French newspaper, Les Echos, and Thomson Financial, Clear Channel's French subsidiary has sued the City of Paris and JCDecaux calling its practices anti-competitive. Paris has suggested expanding Velib' to its suburbs with 300 stations and 4,500 bikes, for a cost of about $10 million per year. Clear Channel's concern is that the expansion of the bike-sharing program would put them at a disadvantage because JCDecaux's Velib' is already in-use in the region. So is the problem anti-competitive or Velib' is too successful? This may be first lawsuit of its kind and undoubtedly won't be the last.

Once an advertising company provides a successful bike-sharing program in the core of a region, regardless of the region, they will have a de facto monopoly on that region. Folks from the region will come to associate the name of the bike-sharing program with the concept itself and request its expansion into their jurisdictions. As a public policy it makes most sense to have the bike-sharing network all of the same technology, rather than localized technologies that are incompatible. So there will be a political push for this as well. It would be foolish to have a small program run by Clear Channel in the Paris suburbs with a highly successful JCDecaux program in the city.

I see this as another reason governments should demand that bike-sharing be provided as a singular service, unbundled from the other services any company, especially advertisers, such as Clear Channel and JCDecaux, provide. (Barcelona did and got Clear Channel to provide Bicing. JCDecaux provides the advertising.) The two services are totally unrelated and should remain so. Advertisers are good at just that and should remain focused. Bike-sharing is a transit service and, I believe, should be provided by an organization that can keep this as their focus. There are examples of advertisers adeptly running bike-sharing programs, however, there shouldn't be any question in the future about their priority and therefore separating advertising from bike-sharing would ensure this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On-line Public Bicycle System Inventory

From our friends at Translink in British Columbia - a great way to compare bike-sharing program data on-line. Bike-sharing Blog readers are welcome to review and edit the spreadsheet to share their knowledge with everyone. Instructions on how to access the spreadsheet are below.

Welcome to the on-line Public Bicycle System Inventory.

This collaborative spreadsheet was initiated by TransLink (South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority) as a way to compile comparative data related to public bicycle systems (a.k.a. bike-sharing, community bikes, city bikes, automated bike rental systems) and make it publicly available to anyone with an internet connection. This inventory will be useful for both existing public bicycle systems (in order to see how they compare), and for cities that are in the dreaming and investigation stages (in order to help them plan their own systems).

Housing the spreadsheet with Google Docs enables multiple users in different locations to simultaneously collaborate on updating the inventory, resulting in a document that is bigger, better, richer, more complete, and more up-to-date than any one of us could have achieved individually. We encourage everyone to contribute!


Anyone with a Google account can view the inventory at:

· If you don’t already have a Google Account and need to create one, it takes less than a minute :

In order to add or edit information and contribute to the collaborative effort you need to have a Google Account AND you need to get an invitation.

· If you haven’t already received an electronic invitation to join the collaboration, TransLink will send you one. Just e-mail us here :

· Once you have accepted the invitation, you are free to invite others to join by entering their e-mail address in the « Share » dialog box. You can send invitations to entire mailing lists and there is no limit to the number of spreadsheet collaborators!


1. Enter any information that you have at your disposal into the spreadsheet, inserting new rows (edit > insert > row) for new cities and new columns (edit > insert > column) for new categories.

2. Whenever possible please cite your sources by inserting a comment in the appropriate cell (right-click on cell > insert comment).

3. So that programs can be easily compared, enter all currency-related data in Euros (with the original currency price inserted as a comment). For exchange rates, see worksheet 3 – Currency Exchange Rates (link at bottom of screen).

4. If you know of any towns or cities that are currently dreaming of, investigating, or planning for a public bicycle system but don’t yet have one on the ground, please add their information into worksheet 2 – Cities Investigating PBS (link at bottom of screen) rather than into the main inventory.

Thank you for contributing! If you have any questions, comments or suggestions on ways to improve this spreadsheet, please

Happy cycling!

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I apologize to The Bike-sharing Blog fans as I've been away on a bike-sharing trip of the United States' West Coast where a lot of bike-sharing interest exists.

While in Seattle I learned about the University of Washington's bike-sharing pilot which is to include 40 electric bikes and four stations and is to be provided by Intrago Corporation. According to Intrago's press release, Joshua Kavanagh, the new Director of Transportation Services at the University of Washington is quoted to have said, "We're very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Intrago to bring this innovative project to our campus. This new form of on-demand personal mobility will add a significant enhancement to our award-winning U-Pass program [university magnetic stripe card]. We anticipate this added incentive to further reduce the number of cars coming to campus each day as well as reduce car and truck use within our campus."

Way to go, University of Washington! This is the first 3rd generation university bike-sharing program of which I'm aware in North America. The U.K. is the only country with a former university program elsewhere. The U.K. system was linear and ceased to operate once a bus line began operating service in the same corridor. U of W's program is to be up-and-running for the Fall '08 semester.

I'm not yet familiar with Intrago's technology and I believe it's recently out of research & development or nearing it. However, I do have a concern about electric bikes. On one hand I feel that if electric bikes get more people cycling, then it's worked. On the other hand, pedal cycles are the most efficient form of transportation and the carbon footprint consists of only manufacturing the bike and replacing parts as they wear out. Electric bikes are bulkier (80+ pounds) and produce pollution to power them. There's also the added pollution of moving around the heavier bikes from station to station. The University of Washington is not too hilly, especially when compared with the rest of Seattle. The jury will be out on this issue. Intrago offers its technology for pedal cycles, so maybe this would work better for the campus.

Now over to France. With Paris' transit strike, Velib' has become immensely more popular. According to an article in The International Herald Tribune the strike has pushed the number of daily Velib' trips from 90,000 before the strike to 175,000! (That's more trips per day than a lot of bus systems.) Folks have been waiting in lines at Velib' stations, sometimes up to an hour, to take out the next bike that comes in.

image credit: Intrago Corporation