Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bike-sharing Wrap-up for 2008

This year has been another banner year for bike-sharing! Some time ago I made the prediction that bike-sharing would spread faster than any other mode of transit, but I’ve got whiplash at how fast the growth is happening. At this time last year there were 60 programs in existence. Now there are 92 bike-sharing programs up-and-running around the world with many more in various stages of planning for a 2009 launch. So that’s why it seemed like there was a new launch every other week - because there was!

This year has seen the first bike-sharing programs in North America, Asia, Australia, and South America. My hometown of Washington, D.C. launched North America’s first program with Denver and Montreal following a few weeks later. Asia kicked-off bike-sharing with Beijing, just in time for the Olympics, and then Shanghai. The Australian continent saw Kiwis begin service in Auckland. South America rounded out the year with Rio de Janiero and Santiago launching just before we change the calendars. The remainder of this year’s 24 programs started across Europe from Seville to Krakow. Africa has yet to launch a program, however, hopefully will do so in the upcoming year.

My predictions for 2009 are that bike-sharing will see another good year, despite the downturn in the global economy. Governments will have less money to spend on public services, however, in reviewing the cost of moving people (rather than of moving vehicles), they will see that bike-sharing strongly competes with other modes of transportation for short-distance trips. Accordingly, I predict 40 new programs will launch internationally next year.

Secondly, the provision of programs with advertising contracts has been the predominant vehicle to initiate services to date. Today, more companies producing off-the-shelf technologies exist. This will lead to programs which are not sponsored by advertising contracts, but rather by local governments and entrepreneurs. More cities with smaller populations, call them 2nd and 3rd tier cities, which couldn’t support large advertising contracts will see bike-sharing services.

Thirdly, university programs will take-off. There is intense interest coming from universities which have their own transportation needs and transportation budgets. Due to this, they have the ability to select the systems that best meet their needs and provide the density of bikes and stations the university requires, which the city in some cases couldn’t provide.

In a time when global climate change issues have never been more important, The Bike-sharing Blog is there to help citizen advocates, businesspeople, public officials, and others better understand what bike-sharing is and how it could be useful in their own communities. The Bike-sharing Blog continues to be the world’s number one source of information regarding this concept. Links to programs around the world, fascinating research and articles, and a translation widget helps make the information manageable and useful to its readers. I always want to make this even better, so your thoughts are always welcome. Thanks to many of its readers sending information about the happenings in their communities, I’m able to keep The Bike-sharing Blog and The Bike-sharing World Map up-to-date. This blog is more than a passion for me, it's part of a movement towards better transportation.

I want to thank you for reading The Bike-sharing Blog and here’s to a happy, healthy, and green 2009!

Paul DeMaio
MetroBike, LLC

No comments: