Monday, February 20, 2012

Weather or Not to Bike-share

Snow-covered London's Barclays Cycle Hire
Is it ever too cold to bike-share? A rather mild North American winter and a pretty rough Central European winter is causing a lot of thought on whether or not to bike-share in winter weather.

As was posted here on December 12, 2011, many bike-sharing systems around the world went into hibernation in December. A notable exception is Canada's Toronto bIXI. It has stayed open and enjoyed the milder winter. Last month, Toronto celebrated the "Coldest Day of the Year" bike ride. It was not very cold and one can see the bike-share bikes are right up front in the photo below.

According to the Gazette, the spokesman for both the Montréal and Toronto bIXI systems, Michel Philibert, indicated that they will watch Toronto's experience, as that city embarks on its first winter with a bIXI service to determine if Montréal should stay open through winter as well. He also had respectable usage numbers for Toronto's system on the winter days that are above freezing. The most northern systems in Asia are the Tianjin Binhai New Area Public Bicycle and the pilots programs in Beijing, China which are open and operating in the winter cold. Although the most northern system in Europe, Trondheim, Norway's Bysykkel is in winter hibernation, the northern German city of Hamburg has StadtRAD rolling. Even in winter with snow or just cold, it seems there can be bike-sharing in the world's upper latitudes.
bikeMi in Milan, Italy this month
Anyone can ride in the winter 

Not only latitude, but altitude also effects the weather. At the foot of the Rocky Mountains at 5,400 ft (1,650 m) above sea level, Colorado's Boulder B-cycle has left two of its stations open for the winter. The locations near the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research will test how the stations, bikes, and users fare in the extreme temperatures. They hope the lessons learned will allow year-round service. 

As for bike-share users, here is a link on tips from ICEBIKE for the winter cyclist. Enjoy riding in the snow, if you have some!

1 comment:

Chris said...

I was using Boston's bike share, Hubway, a little when it first opened in the summer. But they close down around Thanksgiving, which seems so silly, since there's hardly been any winter to speak of this year. (So far at least, I guess we've still got about a month to go).
I was so bummed out by this, and I liked the idea of the flexibility I got with the bike share, especially being able to ride to do errands on my lunch break. I have actually gotten myself a folding bike to keep under my desk, so that I can keep running around during the day, even though the bike share is closed. It's kind of nice to have my own bike anyway.