My employer was gracious enough to start an employee bike-sharing program several years ago as one way to improve employee heath and fitness, as well as lower insurance and transportation costs. Two bikes are parked for shared use near the main entrance to the building for 9-10 months of the year. The bikes were provided by MSU Bikes at Michigan State University, which is one of 36 American and four Canadian university-operated bike sharing/renting/selling/repair programs. Grand Valley State University, west of Grand Rapids is in the process of developing a program based on the MSU model. Below is a chart of campus bike-sharing programs in the United States and Canada.
|UC – Davis||Davis, CA||1971|
|UC – San Diego||San Diego, CA||1973|
|UC – Santa Cruz||Santa Cruz, CA||1986|
|Oberlin College||Oberlin, OH||1986|
|Hampshire College||Amherst, MA||1991|
|British Columbia||Vancouver, BC||1998|
|Fresno State||Fresno, CA||2001|
|Michigan State||East Lansing, MI||2003|
|Portland State||Portland, OR||2004|
|Utah State||Logan, UT||2005|
|Bowdoin College||Brunswick, ME||2006|
|UW – Milwaukee||Milwaukee, WI||2006|
|Maryland||College Park, MD||2007|
|Sonoma State||Rohnert Park, CA||2007|
|Ripon College||Ripon, WI||2008|
|UC – Irvine||Irvine, CA||2009|
|Washington State||Pullman, WA||2009|
|Berea College||Berea, KY||?|
|UC – Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara, CA||?|
|Illinois- Chicago||Chicago, IL||?|
|Missouri – KC||Kansas City, MO||?|
|Northland College||Ashland, WI||?|
|Oregon Health & Science||Portland, OR||?|
|Smith College||Northampton, MA||?|
|St. Cloud State||St. Cloud, MN||?|
|Stanford||Palo Alto, CA||?|
|Tulane||New Orleans, LA||?|
|Grand Valley State||Allendale, MI||planned|
SOURCES: campus sources
In 1994, Portland, Oregon became the first city in the United States to provide a free community-based bike-sharing service through its Yellow Bike Project. Similar programs were established in a few other American and Canadian cities, but a number of these early pioneers closed after a short period.
More recently, pay-as-you-ride bike sharing programs have been developed successfully across both countries. Many of sponsored and operated by individual communities, health organizations, or philanthropic entities. The largest bike sharing operation in the United States is B-cycle located in ten cities, while Bixi operates in the eastern Canadian cities of Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, plus six other locations in the United States, England, and Australia. Alta Bicycle Share currently operates two systems in the USA.
The largest and most successful bike sharing program is in beautiful Montreal, Quebec, where Bixi provides more than 5,000 bicycles at 400+ locations across the metro area. Another large- scale effort is underway in Washington, DC, where the plan The chart below lists the community-based bike-sharing programs in the United States and Canada.
|Portland, OR||Yellow Bike Project||200||1994 – 1997|
|Tucson, AZ||Orange Bike Project||80||1996 – 1996|
|Austin, TX||Yellow Bike Project||4||1997 – present|
|Toronto, ON||BikeShare||16||150||2001 – 2006|
|Edmonton, AB||People’s Pedal||2005 – 2008|
|Washington, DC||Smart Bike||2008 – 2010|
|Montreal, QB||Bixi||405||5,050||2009 – present|
|Washington, DC||Capital Bikeshare||116||1,100||2010 – present|
|Miami Beach, FL||Deco Bike||73||740||2011 – present|
|Toronto, ON||Bixi||80||1,000||2010 – present|
|Denver, CO||B-cycle||51||510||2010 – present|
|Des Moines, IA||B-cycle||4||2010 – present|
|Madison, WI||B-cycle||24||2010 – present|
|Minneapolis, MN||Nice Ride/Bixi||95||700||2010 – present|
|San Antonio, TX||B-cycle||19||140||2011 – present|
|Ottawa, ON||Bixi||10||100||2011 – present|
|Honolulu, HA||B-cycle||2||2011 – present|
|Chicago, IL||B-cycle||6||2011- present|
|Boulder, CO||B-cycle||13||2011 – present|
|Omaha, NE||B-cycle||3||2011 – present|
|Boston, MA||Hubway/Bixi||61||610||2011 – present|
|Broward County, FL||B-cycle||27||proposed|
|East Lansing, MI||5||20-30||2012|
|New York City, NY||NYC Bikeshare/Bixi||600||10,000||2012|
|Chattanooga, TN||Bike Chattanooga||30||300||2012|
Based on the chart above, most surprising are the cities where bike sharing programs have yet to be developed. Personally, I would have guessed that San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver were trend setters in this area. I am not sure why bike sharing programs have not been established in them, though it could be partially due to the number of bike riders/commuters with their own bikes.
These are exciting times for cycling advocates and recreational bicyclists alike. No longer do you feel like you have to lug your bike with you whenever you travel. Hopefully, the current model is sustainable over the long haul unlike earlier versions. Given the expansion of multi-city operations, it appears the pay-as-you-go option has legs much like Zipcars and similar urban transportation opportunities.
Bike sharing programs are just one of the exciting mobility options that are revolutionizing urban travel and urban planning. Zipcars, Segways, water taxis, motor scooters, entertainment-oriented transit, and, electric bikes, velomobiles, modern streetcars are others. Each is dramatically reshaping the urban landscape in its own way by:
• Bringing renewed pedestrian and bicycle life to once auto-dominated streets that knits cities together in ways unimaginable just a decade or two ago.
• Invoking political support and advocacy for complete street programs and safe routes to school.
• Lessening the need for car ownership and thereby lessening our carbon footprint.
• Increasing public acceptance of new transportation options.
• Reinvigorating once derelict shopping and entertainment districts.
• Adding more focus on non-motorized transportation in planning and design.
• Enhancing artistic expression through design competitions and similar events.
• Enlivening city street life into the wee hours of the morning.
• Reducing the need for new street and highway construction.
• Creating new entrepreneurial opportunities related to non-motorized transportation.