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

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Seoul's Jumping in By 2010

According to The Korea Times, Seoul is making progress towards implementing a bike-sharing program and kilometers more safe places to ride by 2010. Presently, "the city lacks road infrastructure and related transportation law to guarantee the efficient operation of the free bicycle project." To create a bike-friendly city first, Seoul "will expand the current 55-kilometer bike-only road length to up to 360 kilometers by 2010. For the plan, it will divide the city into five areas and invest 21.8 billion won to set up 45 bike-only roads." 21.8 billion won is about $24 million USD. Not too shabby for improving bike facilities over a 3-year period.

It's good to see this level of investment towards improving bike infrastructure to better support bicycling, the environment, Seoulites health, and bike-sharing. Bike-sharing is but one form of bike infrastructure, however, won't be successful if a bike-friendly environment does not already exist. It seems that Seoul understands this and is planning for the safe places for everyone to ride in addition to bike transit to complement it.

Image credit: Lonely Planet

Friday, November 16, 2007

European-style bike-sharing programs head to US

An article titled "European-style bike-sharing programs head to US" by AFP has information about three programs, those of Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and Arlington, Virginia, that are on their way. Washington, D.C.'s program is to launch in March or April of 2008 with 120 bikes at 10 stations. Small, but hey, it'll be the first in North America. D.C. contracted for the 120 bikes four years ago when it released its Request for Proposals for its bus shelter contract. Four years ago, a fleet of 120 was impressive. With larger and successful programs like Velib' (10,600 bikes now with 20,600 planned) and Bicing (3,000 bikes now with 6,000 planned), the relative size of a small program has shifted. D.C. officials are already considering how to expand the size of their program.

Also, Chicago is considering bids from JCDecaux and OYBike for its program. Both companies have yet to enter the U.S. market, however, JCDecaux's programs in Paris and Lyon are much more visible than OYBike's in the London suburb of Hammersmith & Fulham. Unless OYBike had a very appetizing offer for Chicago, JCDecaux's program is rather sexy.

Finally, Arlington, Virginia is considering another model for the provision of bike-sharing - the government provides the service.

image: Saul Loeb, AFP

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Roam Around Rome, By Bike

Rome is stepping into the 21st Century bike-sharing world with the launch of its own service. The Spanish infrastructure company, FCC, and its outdoor advertising subsidiary, Cemusa, will be providing the service with the Italian Bicincitta' technology, which is used in 15 locations throughout Italy.

AFP reports, "The pilot programme, with an initial length of six months, will include 250 bicycles and 22 stations in the historic centre of Rome," with the eventual goal of reaching Paris' 20,000 bikes.

"Travelling in the centre of Rome will be easier, faster, economical and environmentally sound with the experimental bike-sharing programme," said Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni in FCC's press release.

This is great news however Rome is not known to be bike-friendly. In fact, Rome is known to be hostile towards bikes and pedestrians. The city realizes this and is beginning to create improved bike facilities. On a visit there in June, I came across a cycle track (separated bike facility) under construction in the neighborhood north of the Vatican. Being Rome, it looked like the curbs were made of a high-quality marble instead of the standard concrete. Bellissimo!

image: Colosseum - Wikipedia, Cycle track - Paul DeMaio

Friday, November 9, 2007

Free it may be, but is it cheap?

An article in BusinessWeek discusses the success of the bike-sharing concept and where it's been catching on. The author also discusses who provides the service. Bike-sharing is presently dominated by two companies - JCDecaux and Clear Channel Adshel. They have brought bike-sharing to the forefront with success, and for this they should be commended. However, BusinessWeek contends that localities which contract for advertising on public property and get bike-sharing as a "bonus" are really paying for the service.

The article suggests:

"Would it not be a better deal for a city simply to sell its advertising rights for money, and to the highest bidder? With the revenue it could then pay for a bike rental service or any other programs -- and in the end, if possible, have a tidy sum left over. When it comes to package deals like this one, that suspicion always lingers."

The dissection of the two is happening. In Barcelona, JCDecaux provides the advertising while Clear Channel Adshel provides bike-sharing. The same split is happening in Hamburg too where the city will "hold a separate tender process for a bike rental scheme at the beginning of next year."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November 2007 World Map of Bike-sharing

Without further ado, I'd like to present a world map of bike-sharing programs. I have tallied a total of 62 2nd and 3rd generation bike-sharing programs worldwide. Per earlier research I'm defining 2nd generation programs as low-tech unattended coin-deposit release systems and 3rd generation as high-tech unattended smartcard or mobile phone release systems.

This provides a continent scorecard of:

Europe: 61
Asia: 1
North America: 0
South America: 0
Australia: 0
Africa: 0
Antartica: 0 (it's a continent too and will likely need bike-sharing due to global warming)

As you can see, Europe is slightly in the lead, but Asia is not far behind. The list of these programs you will find on the right column of this blog.

View Larger Map

This year has seen the greatest expansion of bike-sharing programs than any other year. With systems like Barcelona's Bicing and the behemoth, Paris' Velib', bike-sharing is reaching a wider audience than ever before.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Beijing Bike-sharing II

In an article from The Christian Science Monitor titled "Return to the bike? Hard sell in Beijing" by Peter Ford reports on The Beijing Bicycle Rental Company's efforts to get Beijingers (Beijingians?) back to their biking roots.

The article states: " 'We Chinese have a special feeling for bicycles, and cars have brought catastrophic damage to our society and our environment,' [the owner of Beijing Bicycle Rental Company] Wang says. 'Every civilized citizen has to be aware … that we have to bring bikes back into our daily lives.'

'His business is simple: customers pick up a bike at one of the company's rental stations – a straightforward model adapted to Beijing's sometimes bumpy streets – leave a 400 yuan ($53) credit-card deposit, and whiz away. When they are finished, they drop the bike off at another station and get their deposit back.'

'The service costs 5 yuan ($0.66) an hour, 20 yuan ($2.66) a day, or 100 yuan ($13.33) for a year-long VIP card. 'The longer you rent, the cheaper it gets,' Wang says, 'because we want to encourage people to use a green mode of transportation for longer. I see this as a public-service business.' " This is a different model from other bike-sharing services, but I like it!

Presently with 31 stations and 500 bikes, Mr. Wang hopes to have 200 stations and 50,000 bikes by the end of 2008.

photo credit: Sun Jun/ChinaFotoPress/ZUMA Press

NBC Nightly News Takes Note of Bike-sharing

Paris becomes the City of Bikes
Paris becomes the City of Bikes

NBC Nightly News has taken note of bike-sharing. The broadcast of October 26 showcased Paris' Velib' noting just how popular it has been and how even city officials are surprised that the City of Lights would also become the City of Bikes.

One glaring error in the report was reporter, Keith Miller, explaining that "every large American city has expressed interested in bike-sharing except for San Francisco," as he's riding uphill in a Parisian neighborhood. Was this supposed to be an analogy showing why hilly San Francisco would not even consider bikes or bike-sharing? Well, this is not correct and NBC would have know this is they had viewed The Bike-sharing Blog on October 3. San Francisco is indeed getting its own bike-sharing program and has already selected the company to do it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Montreal rushing to share bikes

An article titled "Montreal pedals way to 'self-serve' first" in The Gazette (Montreal) states, "The first city-issue self-serve bicycles will start to appear at specially designed outdoor bike stations in the fall of 2008. By the fall of 2009 [..], there should be 2,400 bikes available for rent for as little as $1 per half-hour of use at 300 stations around the city's central neighbourhoods, [Andre Lavallee, executive committee member responsible for Montreal's transportation issues] said."

This won't be the first program in North America as D.C. is getting pretty close to launching, but it looks like it could be the first in Canada... unless those folks in Vancouver have something to say about it! Based on the number of bikes and investment (below), however, this could be the largest bike-sharing program in North America.

"The city has commissioned Stationnement Montreal, a subsidiary of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, to design and execute the bike rental system. The company, which currently manages the city's paid on-street and public parking lots, will invest $15 million to get the project up and running, and expects to eventually recoup these costs."

"We used to see cycling as recreation, but now thousands of people are using bikes to get to work, or school. This summer, we actually saw traffic jams of cyclists on some of our new bike routes, like St. Urbain. Something is changing right now in Montreal and we all have to come along on this wave," said Lavallee.

Something is changing indeed.

photo credit: Conférence de Montréal

Monday, October 15, 2007

Portland Considering Bike-sharing Bids

According to The Portland Tribune, Portland, Oregon closed its bidding period this past Friday for a bike-sharing service and will be reviewing bids over the next few months. The fleet size they're looking for is 500 bikes and the city is open to the idea of either an advertising or non-advertising-based service. Where advertising is accepted, corporations like Clear Channel Adshel and JCDecaux have huge advantages as the millions of dollars they make on advertising revenues from bus shelters, billboards, and kiosks pay for bike-sharing. However, the smaller local companies have the advantage of being more responsive and knowing the local environment better.

photo credit: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Bloomberg Eyes Bike Program for Home"

An article in The New York Times titled "In Paris, Bloomberg Eyes Bike Program for Home" reports New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Paris in late September and fascinated with Velib'. Bloomberg "acknowledged the challenges of bringing home a popular Parisian bike rental program [...] saying he was unsure it would translate to New York. Noting challenges like roads damaged by seasonal changes, the lack of bike lanes, liability problems and the possibility that commuters would not want to carry helmets to work, Mr. Bloomberg said: 'You try to see whether it fits, and some parts of it will, but it may very well give you an idea to do something totally different.' "

Yes, there are challenges, NY, but nothing that the Big Apple can't overcome.

Seasonal changes - Sure, but with bike-sharing programs all over northern climes like Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo; damaged roads haven't stopped them.

Liability problems - The easy solution would be to evict all of NY's lawyers. However, just in case that's not possible, insurance and waivers are needed. Also, more bike safety education and more stringently enforced traffic laws are necessary.

And fortunately for bike riders, helmets carry easily on top of one's head.

photo credit: Michael Sawyer/Associated Press

Friday, October 5, 2007

Paris Bike Mode Share Scenarios From Velib'

Andrew Curran from the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) provides a spreadsheet of potential scenarios that Velib' could create on bike mode share in Paris and encourages its use by others. The spreadsheet is in Excel and available for download. Says Andrew:

"Scenario #1a shows that once Paris is finished installing all 20,600 public bikes, they will have more than doubled their cycling mode share in the span of a few months – increasing by 118% (from 1.63% to 3.55%). This result assumes that each public bike will be used for the current average of 6 trips per day and that there will be no concurrent increase in private cycling trips. It also assumes that 4% of public bike trips will replace private bicycle trips and that 2% of public bike trips would not have been made otherwise. Trips being shifted away from motor vehicles (~7%), walking (~37%), and public transit (~50%) are not factored into this model since they do not affect the overall number of trips being made.

"Experience from Lyon suggests that a significant increase in private cycling trips is likely to occur as well since the public bicycle system acts as a “door opener” to increase the acceptance of cycling as an urban transport mode. If, in addition to the already-realized mode share growth described above, private cycling trips in Paris also increase by 50% (shown in Scenario #3a) - then Paris would achieve a 4.37% bike mode share representing a 168% increase over pre-July levels.

"The remainder of the scenarios (#4-10) show what would happen to mode share if the number of Velib bikes was doubled, the number of trips made per day on Velib bikes was doubled, and the number of trips made by private bicycle increased by 50%, 100%, 200%, and 400%. The final scenario shows that for a 15% mode share to be realized, the number of public bikes would need to be doubled (to 41,200), the number of trips made on each bike per day would need to be doubled (to 12), and the number of trips made by private bicycle would need to increase by 331% - or some combination thereof.

"Playing around with this very basic model (e.g. changing number of public bikes, number of trips, rate of private cycling increase) starts to give a rough sense of the scale of mode share change that could be realized through a public bike system."

Methodology and Data Sources:

· City Population 2006 & 2008 assumes current trend of 0.2% growth per year (

· Trips/Day/Capita of 2.85 is about standard for large cities in Western Europe (p.11 -

· 2006 Bike mode share of 1.63% (p.2 -

· Recent article in The Economist reports system is clocking about 100,000 rides per day ( equalling roughly 10 trips/day/public bike. I had earlier read that each public bike was averaging only 6 trips per day (,23599,22181882-1702,00.html)

· Assumption made that 4% of public bike trips are replacing private bike trips and that 2% of public bike trips are new trips that would not have been made otherwise – as was reported from the Lyon experience (

· 2008 Total trips/day calculated by multiplying projected 2008 population by 2.85 and then adding the new 2,016 trips occuring due to the public bike system

· 2008 Private bike trips/day calculated by multiplying projected 2008 population by 1.63% and then subtracting the 4,032 trips that occured instead by public bike

· 2008 Total Bike Trips / Day calculated by adding Private bike trips (96,447) and Public bike trips (100,800) together

· 2008 Bike Mode Share (3.2%) calculated by dividing bike trips by total trips

Can I Ring Your Bell?

From the UK's Times Online in an article titled "Pardon, mamselle but can I ring your bell":

"If you are on the hunt for love in Paris, forget cafés and art galleries and rent a bicycle instead. Residents and visitors have found that the city’s new self-service bike scheme offers the best chance of flirting with strangers.

"The emergence of a two-wheeled mating service has been one of several unintended consequences of the runaway success of le Vélib’, the sturdy grey bicyclettes that the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, unleashed on the streets in mid-July."


Look-out on-line dating services! You've got new in-line competition. With all the matching, Velib should begin to offer tandems.

photo: TimesOnline

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

San Francisco - America's First Bike-sharing Town?

In the October 3rd San Francisco Chronicle, an article titled "S.F. moving to catch up with European bike-share programs" was about San Francisco's efforts to start bike-sharing. Clear Channel Adshel won the advertising rights on S.F.'s transit shelters and will be providing the bike-sharing service as part of this contract. I understand from the author of this report that a definitive number of neither bikes nor stations were not mentioned in the contract. Clear Channel won Washington, D.C.'s contract and will hopefully be starting a bike-sharing program with only 120 bikes at 10 stations, after two years of waiting... waiting.

Now that we're in a new era with programs in Europe that are measured in the thousands of bikes and hundreds of stations, it's absolutely necessary that American programs are measured in the same way. If a small program like D.C.'s fails (which I don't believe it will), it can't be said that bike-sharing in America doesn't work because America doesn't bike. This would be incorrect. A substantial program must be made to ensure that it succeeds. Velib' in Paris will carry as many passengers as the tram system by the end of the year when it has all 20,600 bikes up-and-running because an equal commitment was made to bike-sharing that was made to the tram.

Why shouldn't San Francisco have a bike-sharing program equal to Paris's? I don't see any reason why not? Paris had a bike mode share of 1.63% before Velib'; it's probably tripled or quadrupled since July. S.F.'s bike mode share was about 4% in 2003. This leads me to believe that bike-sharing would be even more well-used in S.F.

Paris has a population of about 2,200,000, or 107 people per bike-sharing bike. San Francisco has a population of 750,000, so why not have 7,000 bikes for the same ratio as Paris? This would make San Francisco's bike-sharing program the second largest in the world and deservedly so for the great city.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bike-sharing Presentation

For those in the Washington, D.C. area, I will be giving a talk about the international development of bike-sharing programs and discussing the efforts for bike transit in the U.S. Snacks will be provided at the presentation, which is free, by BikeArlington.

The presentation will be from 6:30 - 7:30pm at the Arlington County Government Center, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., in the lobby's Azalea Room. Space is limited, so RSVP by October 21 if you're interested in attending.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hot Off the Virtual Presses!

Stats from "Newsletter Velo'v" (Lyon, France):

- # miles Velo'v bikes traveled in July 2007 - 761,883 mi
- # miles Velo'v bikes traveled in August 2007 - 691,986 mi
- # miles Velo'v bikes traveled since the beginning of the year - 5,945,754 mi
- # miles Velo'v bikes traveled since the program's launch in 2005 - 15,229,979 mi

Now that's a lot of calories burned and pollution not emitted! The Newsletter Velo'v states this equates to 5,000 tons of CO2 saved.

Velib' Video'

There's a great video about Velib' from New Zealand's TV3 titled "Bikes hoped to lessen Paris traffic woes". The video shows the bikes being used, a close-up of the locking mechanism, and the Paris transportation department's bike-sharing program manager, Celine Lepault, speaks about the program. Parisians are fortunate to have someone like Celine running the municipal aspects of Velib'. Having met with Celine in June, she was excited to practice her English with me in a discussion about the yet-to-be-launch service. Soon, with all of the interviews she has been giving, she'll be speaking English better than me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Velib' for Tourists

An article in Sunday's Washington Post titled "Free Wheeling: Paris's New Bike System" shows tourists how to use Paris' Velib'. Make sure to bring your smart-chip Amex or Visa with you before you go.

"A major drawback for U.S. visitors is that you can sign up only with a smart-chip Visa card or an American Express card, a limitation that will leave a lot of Americans out in the cold. However, one card can be used to sign up several individuals. JCDecaux, the company running the system, says it hopes this problem will be resolved in the near future."

photo credit: The Washington Post

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Paris' Popular Bike Program may Inspire Others

A glowing report was on NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" showcasing Velib'. The report states, "Launched in July, the 'Velib' bikes were part of the Paris mayor's idea of making the city more ecologically friendly and reducing traffic. Just two months on, the self-service bicycles have clocked some 3.7 million rides and seem to be changing the way people get around the city."

Also, Chicago had a Request for Proposals out which ended a few months ago looking for a company to provide bike-sharing service of 500 or 1,500 bikes to the city. Chicago's mayor Richard Daley visited Paris this week to go for a spin. "Daley says he thinks the bikes could work in Chicago."

photo credit: NPR

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First-ever Bike-sharing Conference in Barcelona

I've been to lots of bike conferences and even one that included a session on bike-sharing, however, this conference in Barcelona is the first I'm aware of that is focused solely on bike-sharing. This two-day event will be on November 29 - 30. If you were looking for an excuse to go to Barcelona, here it is. This Website is in Spanish.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Humana's Freewheelin' Ridin' High

According to "Promoting pedal power" in the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal, Humana Inc., one of the U.S.'s largest health care providers, has launched a bike-sharing program called Freewheelin' for its 8,500 Louisville employees. The program has 20 three-speed bikes with automatic shifters with five more bikes designed for longer treks, such as for commuting or lunchtime recreational rides. The system was designed by Canadian firm QI Systems, Inc. and uses Trek's Lime bikes. Presently, there are two stations, however, "Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson would like to see it expanded so city residents one day could check out a bike from a number of locations -- for example, to go wheeling around the parks," the article states.

So far about 2,000 of Humana's downtown employees "have enrolled in the program, and 300 or so have already used bikes [program manager Nate Kvamme said]. The company expects to add two more racks of bikes soon."

Other health care providers take note - bike-sharing is good for you!

This is only the 2nd bike-sharing program in the U.S. which I'm aware of. The 1st, also by QI Systems, is the Tulsa Townies program in Tulsa, Oklahoma which I've written about previously.

photo credit: The Courier-Journal

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beijing's Bike-Sharing

An alert reader has pointed me to infor on Beijing's bike-sharing program. According to BikeRadar, "After the overwhelming success of Paris' bike rental scheme China is jumping on the bandwagon with a project five times the size of the one in the French capital. In the recent months the Beijing Government has been trialling a bike rental scheme at 31 hire stations around the capital. This week it announced its expansion, with 200 outlets planned in time for the 2008 Summer Games."

Additionally, this program has a different business plan. "As well as tackling pollution, the scheme is aimed at reducing bike theft in Beijing. Unlike in Europe, where advertising agencies have been given premium space in exchange for running rental schemes, Beijing's bike programme is being sponsored by the anti-theft arm of the municipal public security bureau and the Beijing Environment Protection Bureau. Police officer Wang Xiaobing told China Daily: 'This is like a centralized management of bicycles so that citizens won't have to worry about thefts.' "

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pre-Velib' Bicycle Data

In a document titled "Vélib’ à Paris", useful statistics are provided about Paris in its efforts of becoming a worldclass bicycle city. Some interesting numbers :

- 231 miles (371 km) of cycle tracks (physically separated bike lanes) in 2006, and
- 1.63% of all trips were made by cyclists in 2006.

They'll need a new scale for this graph for 2007 as the mode share could be as high as, dare I say 15%, with the new 20,600 bikes on the street. These baseline numbers will be helpful in determining just how successful bike-sharing has been for the city. As I've mentioned in earlier posts on The Bike-sharing Blog, Lyon experienced a 400-500% increase in bike model share in 2 1/2 years with Velo'v and Barcelona experienced a 100% increase in three months with Bicing.

Enter Sevilla and Córdoba

Córdoba and Sevilla, Spain will be launching the Cyclocity bike-sharing technology offered by JCDecaux in 2008. According to AutoblogGreen, the Córdoba program, Ciclocity, will be on the smallish size with 35 bikes and 4 stations. The service will be offered free to registered members. The Sevilla program, Sevici, will be on a grander scale with 2,500 bikes and 250 stations.

Along with these two Spanish programs and the five new programs to be launched in France in 2008, it looks like it'll be a busy year for JCDecaux.

photo credit:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Today, Call a Bike launched its 6th program, this one in Karlsruhe, Germany. This bike-sharing program has a fleet of 350 bikes. With a phone number and unique bike number printed on every bike, folks can rent a Call a Bike via their mobile phone for 8 cents per minute, or at a lower 6 cents per minute rate with a special rail "BahnCard". This means a 30-minute ride on a Call a Bike costs between $1.80 and $2.40.

Rather than specific station locations where the bikes could be be picked up and returned, the bikes can be returned to any intersection in the center city and locked to a fixed object, like a bike rack or street sign post, with a strong cable lock that is built into the bike. This provides great flexibility as customers can get within feet of their destination with the public bikes.

The Deutsche Bahn source is in German, however, can be translated with AltaVista's Babelfish.

photo credit: Call a Bike

Seoul and London are On Deck

As reported in The Korea Times, Seoul is planning to launch a bike-sharing program similar to Velib' soon. According to the article, Seoulites Can Borrow Bicycles, "The city plans to first set up 200 bike stations in Songpa-gu where cycle routes are well prepared with about 5,000 bikes and expand the project to other areas of the city."

Also, reported in The Financial Times and Road Cycling UK, London's Mayor Ken Livingstone was so impressed with Velib' which he rode during a visit to watch the Tour de France that he requested Transport for London to examine the feasbility of such a program in London to promote cycling.

Livingstone said, "Cycling is a clean, fast and cheap way to get around London and we have seen an 83 per cent increase in cycling since I became Mayor. I have seen the Paris Freedom Bike scheme, and discussed it with the Mayor of Paris. It clearly works and is highly popular. I have asked transport officials in London to study the Parisian and similar schemes in order to draw up proposals for a scheme which would meet the needs of London. I am sure that we can learn from the success of the Parisian and similar schemes to expand access to cycling in London."

photo credit: Will Fox

BikeDispenser Does Just That

Dutch company Springtime has developed the BikeDispenser to provide bike-sharing in Amsterdam. A fleet of adjustable mini-bikes are housed inside the structure and accessible for customers with a membership smartcard. The bikes may be returned at another BikeDispenser location.

This is a new way of dispensing bikes in the West that is popular in Japan and other Asian countries.

photo credit: BikeDispenser

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Velib' Rolls Past its Millionth Trip

According to Australian news website, Paris's Velib' bike-sharing program has reached an important milestone after just three weeks since its launch - 1,000,000 trips have been made on the utilitarian public bicycles.

Paris's deputy mayor for transport, Denis Baupin, states that an average of 6 trips are made on each bike every day. With 10,000 bikes at the present time, it's no wonder that so many trips by bike have been made. Baupin goes on to say, "Once all the stations are up and running, Velib will be carrying as many people as the Paris tramway." How do you like that - bike transit is only 12 years old (since the launch of Copenhagen's Bycyklen in 1995) and it's maturing into a transit system with the capabilities of a tramway system, albeit relatively new as well.

The article also states the bike-sharing program has been so successful that Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe has ordered a feasability study on extending the scheme into the Paris suburbs. Look out, Copenhagen, it looks like Paris wants the title of World Bike Town.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tulsa Townies Gearing Up

As omnipotent blogs WashCycle and RPUS point out from an article in Tulsa World, a new bike-sharing program is soon to be underway in Tulsa, OK, with the launch of "Tulsa Townies". This program will have 75 bikes located amongst 4 stations.

"The bikes, which will be free to users, are part of a pilot program designed to promote healthy lifestyles, said John-Kelly Warren, chief executive of the William K. Warren Foundation," the article states.

I've read that all the bikes are located in a parks, so will be mainly used for recreational purposes.
This program is similar to the Dasani Blue Bike Program, which also has a recreational focus.

Go Tulsa! With the launch of your new bike-sharing program, it looks like you are OK afterall.

photo credit: Tulsa World

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Houston, we have a problem...

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

Friday, July 20, 2007

Edinburgh Considering Bike-sharing

In an article titled "Self-serve bike hire coming to street near you" in today's Scotsman newspaper, Gareth Edwards reports the Scottish capital is considering OYBike and other bike-sharing services.

The article states Edinburgh Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's transport leader, said "It is important that people are offered as many different ways of getting around the city as possible, and cycling, which is both environmentally friendly and cost effective, is an excellent choice."

photo credit: Scotsman

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Velib' Media Frenzy

Velib' is now just a few days old, however, it's been written about all over the world. Here are just a few articles to stay abreast:

A New French Revolution’s Creed: Let Them Ride Bikes
by Katrin Bennhold; The New York Times; July 16, 2007

Paris Readies for Velib Frenzy
by Emma-Jane Kirby; BBC News: July 15, 2007

Velib' - Paris' New "Bike Transit System"
by France Guide; undated

Saturday, July 14, 2007

T-minus 1 Until Velib'!

The countdown is less than 24 hours until Velib' launches 10,000 bikes in Paris. When I visited with the JCDecaux and Paris representatives in June, they were already having trouble sleeping as the preparations for such a large undertaking are immense. However, they are a committed bunch and I'm sure are creating what will no doubt be a successful program.

I came across this article in the Edmonton Journal, which has the first dollar amount associated with Velib' that I've seen - $124 million. It's a tremendous commitment by Paris for clean air, improved health of its citizens, and a big step towards lessening traffic congestion. Maybe Paris could become the next Copenhagen?

"Paris to Launch World's Largest Bicycle Rental" Edmonton Journal
by Fabio Benedetti-Valentini and Nicholas Bernstein
July 14, 2007

PARIS - Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who installs beach volleyball courts in front of City Hall during summer months, is introducing the world's biggest bicycle-rental operation this weekend.

The 90 million-euro ($124-million US) effort financed by JC Decaux SA, the world's second-largest outdoor advertiser, will enable residents and tourists to pick up a bike at any of the 750 stations around the city and return it to another. The first half-hour will be free.


photo credit: Paul DeMaio

Monday, July 9, 2007

New York Bike-share Project

This week (July 7-11) The Forum for Urban Design and Storefront for Art & Archtecture are teaming-up to encourage New Yorkers to imagine what bike-sharing in New York City could look like. According to the NY Bike-share Project Website:

"The New York Bike-Share Project consists of three parts: The Experiment: Twenty bicycles will be available for free 30-minute rentals between Storefront for Art and Architecture (97 Kenmare Street) and a roving, remote location. The Exhibition: A review of eight successful bike-share programs in European cities will be on view at Storefront. The Charette: The Forum For Urban Design will facilitate a public imagining of a future bike-share program in New York."

The agenda is as follows:

July 9, 6pm: Richard Grasso from Clear Channel Adshel on Barcelona, Stockholm and Oslo

July 10, 6pm: Josh Squire from JC Decaux on Paris, Lyon and Vienna; Carlos Pujol from Cemusa on Pamplona

July 11, 6pm: Charette results and reception

Bike-sharing in New York would be a similar feat as it is in Paris, with equally dramatic effects. Stay tuned.

Image credit: NY Bike-share Project

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Recently in Munich, I came across "nextbike". Nextbike is a low-tech bike-sharing technology hybrid of Copenhagen's second generation Bycyklen and Munich's other bike-sharing technology, Call a Bike. Munich is also the first city I'm aware of which has two bike-sharing services.

To use a nextbike, an individual must register for the service on nextbike's website for free. To use the bike, one must call a toll-free number and provide the bike number to receive the bike's cable lock access code. The phone number must be called again notifying the company that the bike is being returned. I imagine the cable lock has a rotating access code.

The cost of nextbike is 1 Euro per hour and 5 Euro per day. However, should you not return the nextbike to the location in which you picked it up, there is an additional cost of 1 Euro per kilometer from where one started. According to the website, nextbike is available in 10 German cities.

I didn't have the opportunity to ride a nextbike while in Munich, however, it looked like a good service. The ads did seem rather large and the hourly pricing does seem rather expensive compared to the free first 30 minutes other bike-sharing services offer. In addition, trips are not always circular, so the charge of 1 Euro per kilometer seems unfair to the user.

photo credit: Paul DeMaio

Seven Cities to Join Bike-sharing Bunch

According to the June 2007 issue of "Vélo'v - la newsletter", there are seven cities expecting a bike-sharing launch with the JCDecaux technology over the next year. These cities are Aix en Provence (France), Séville (Spain), Paris, Besançon (France), Marseille (France), Mulhouse (France), and Dublin (Ireland). The launches will be happening between now and June 2008. The number of bikes will vary from 200 all the way up to 20,600.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paris set for bike-share scheme to cut congestion

The following article was published by Reuters reporter Alexandra Steigrad on June 13:

PARIS (Reuters) - It's summer in Paris and the French capital is preparing to offer bikes for anyone who wants to take a ride.

By July 15, the city plans to park 10,648 bicycles at 750 stations and nearly double that by 2008, with riders able to take bikes from one station and drop them off at another.

Work on "Velib"' (short for 'free bike' in French) is just starting, but it is already sparking enormous interest.