It’s so wonderful to see a dream come true. I first learned about bike-sharing in 1995 as a student at the University of Virginia. I was working the graveyard shift as a computer consultant at a computer lab, surfing the Web to pass time until my shift ended at 11pm. It was there that I saw a webpage with two photos of Copenhagen’s Bycyklen, or “City Bikes”, on the screen. The website was very bare -- white background, a couple of paragraphs in English, and those two photos. That was all it took. I found myself studying abroad in Copenhagen the following semester learning more about their 2nd generation coin-operated system. It was the first large deployment of bike-sharing anywhere in the world. Amsterdam had dabbled in bike-sharing twenty years earlier with a 1st generation service where bikes were simply left on the street for the public’s use.
During my research I kept thinking to myself, “this idea is a win-win -- great for the environment, public health, and in getting folks on bikes. Why hadn’t bike-sharing taken off elsewhere around the world?” When I returned to the U.S., I advocated for bike-sharing, mainly through academic research for my Masters degree, writing some of the very first published articles on the topic. Eventually, just writing about bike-sharing was no longer enough for me. I needed to get my feet wet and begin being more proactive about it. “Be the change you wish to see,” was what Gandhi said, which I took to heart in 2004 when I founded MetroBike, LLC for the purpose of bringing bike-sharing to the U.S. Cycling in the U.S. is only about 1% of all trips in car-dominated America, but why not think big, right? I started The Bike-sharing Blog and The Bike-sharing World Map to continue to educate a wider auidence about the topic and began picking up clients from around the world who heard about bike-sharing and wanted to make it happen in their part of the world.
Paul DeMaio, MetroBike, LLC
When I started the Blog in May 2007, just before Velib’ launched in Paris, there were about 17 bike-sharing services worldwide. Now in 2010 there are about 200. Make that 201 today with Capital Bikeshare! While I’d like to say that The Bike-sharing Blog helped add those 183 new services, I think Paris may have played a slightly larger role with their mega service of over 20,000 bikes. Thank you Paris.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same could be said about starting a bike-sharing service. So many people positively shaped this weird idea of renting bikes for a short period of time to take this idea from Amsterdam to Copenhagen and now to Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA. I guess dreams do come true.