Imagine walking to a sidewalk corner and finding a public bicycle. With a cellphone call or swipe of a card, you unlock it from its bike rack and ride it across town. Once at your destination, you steer to the closest bike rack and, with one more call or card swipe, return the bike to the public network. You pay less than $. 50 for the trip, and the bike is once again available for the taking. Bike-sharing already exists in cities across Europe, revolutionizing transportation networks and greening the urban fabric. We highlighted eight cities with successful programs: aris Name: Velib’ LauNched: July, 2007 BicycLes: 10,000 statioNs: 750 city popuLatioN: 2. 15 million NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 215 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round price structure: Riders can select a oneday card for €1, a weekly card for €5 or an annual card for €29. First half-hour is free. Additional half-hours are priced at €1, €2 and €4. techNoLogy: Smartcard operatiNg compaNy: JC Decaux By far the largest bike-share program to-date, paris plans to have installed over 10,000 bikes by July, 2007, and 20,000 by 2008.
Mayor Bertrand Delanoe launched the Velib’ network as part of his wide-reaching program to green Paris and reduce vehicular traffic in the central city. To help riders navigate the streets, maps and safety manuals in several languages will be available at every station. BarceLoNa Name: Bicing LauNched: March, 2007 BicycLes: 1,500 statioNs: 100 city popuLatioN: 1. 5 million NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 1,000 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round, 5am to midnight, 24 hours a day on Friday and Saturday. price structure: Riders must apply via mail for a swipe card and purchase an annual subscription for €24.
First half-hour is free. Additional half-hours are priced at €. 30, with a maximum rental time of two hours. techNoLogy: Smartcard, and optional credit card. operatiNg compaNy: Clear Channel Adshel Like many bike-share programs, Bicing offers its users a Google mash-up, with the number of available bikes at every station updated in real-time. BarceLoNa is currently in the process of expanding its program to 3,000 bikes by the end of 2007. As of today, Bicing had attracted 62,000 registered users. copeNhageN
Name: Bycyklen LauNched: 1995 BicycLes: 2,000 statioNs: 110 city popuLatioN: 600,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 400 avaiLaBiLity: April to November price structure: Riders deposit a 20 kroner coin into the bike handlebar to unlock it from the bike rack. Bikes may be rented for unlimited amounts of time, although they may not leave the designated boundary of the old city. The 20 kroner coin is returned when the bike is locked back into the rack. techNoLogy: Coin deposit operatiNg compaNy: City Bike Foundation of Copenhagen
Bycyklen bikes were designed to be simple (they are single-speed), durable and adjustable. They are also conspicuous. In fact, the program is supported in part by advertising placed on each of the bike wheels. copeNhageN has announced the goal of increasing to 5,000 bikes and enlarging the dedicated area. fraNkfurt Name: Call a Bike LauNched: 2003 BicycLes: 720 statioNs: 66 city popuLatioN: 650,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 900 price structure: 8 cents per minute, with a maximum of €15 per day, and €60 per week. techNoLogy: Mobile phone operatiNg compaNy: Deutsche Bahn
Call a Bike is run in several German cities, including fraNkfurt, through a system of authentication codes that automatically locks and unlocks bikes. Residents can approach any Call-a-Bike bicycle at any major intersection within the city. If the green light is blinking on the lock, the bicycle is available. After registering oneself over the phone, the user calls the number displayed on the lock and is given a key code. Bikes can be returned to the network by locking to any fixed structure (except a traffic signal) and entering a new code into the lock. LyoN
Name: Velo’v LauNched: 2005 BicycLes: 3,000 statioNs: 350 city popuLatioN: 450,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 150 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round price structure: Rider must purchase either a long-term or short-term subscription card. First half-hour is free. Pricing then varies for each additional hour. techNoLogy: Smartcard operatiNg compaNy: JC Decaux Three months after Velo’v launched, 15,000 users were taking 4,000 trips a day. Today, daily ridership reaches 30,000. LyoN intends to expand its fleet by an additional 1,000 bikes by the end of 2007, with the goal of having stations within 300 meters of every point in the city.
JC Decaux absorbed all set-up and operating costs in exchange for a bus-shelter advertising contract. osLo Name: Citybike LauNched: 2003 BicycLes: 1,200 statioNs: 100 city popuLatioN: 475,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 400 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round, 6 am to midnight price structure: Yearly subscription card, which is available for 70 kroner/year techNoLogy: Smartcard operatiNg compaNy: Clear Channel Adshel Clear Channel Adshel has installed Citybikes in four Norwegian cities: Trondheim, Drammen, Bergen and osLo.
Citybike is fully funded by Clear Channel Adshel in exchange for street-furniture advertising contracts. pampLoNa Name: Nbici LauNched: July, 2007 BicycLes: 350 statioNs: 20 city popuLatioN: 200,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 570 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round, 8am to 6pm (extended summer hours) price structure: First half-hour is free. Each additional half-hour costs €. 50. techNoLogy: Smartcard operatiNg compaNy: Cemusa Nbici is the newest addition to Europe’s bikeshare network, having launched in early July. It is also Cemusa’s first foray into bike-sharing.
Like most European bike-share programs, nbici is funded through an advertising contract. The City of pampLoNa offered Cemusa control over 50 advertising panels, 40 clocks, 50 advertising fences and 29 posters in exchange for funding nbici in its entirety. stockhoLm Name: Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) LauNched: 2006 BicycLes: 1,000 statioNs: 80 City population: 800,000 Number of citizens per bike: 80 avaiLaBiLity: April-November, 6 am to 6 pm (last bike can be taken at 5:59) price structure: Daily passes cost 25 kroner ($4. 50), and season passes cost 200 kroner ($36).
There is no fee to check out a bike, but penalties are imposed after a maximum rental time of three hours. techNoLogy: Smartcard operatiNg compaNy: Clear Channel Adshel In 2006 stockhoLm launched a congestion pricing program to charge motorists to enter the city center. It has since been recognized as one of the world’s most successful, and Sweden’s parliament voted in June, 2007, to make the charge permanent. Stockholm’s bike-share program has been lauded as a complimentary effort to attract those who might otherwise travel inside the city center by car. ouLd Bike-shariNg work iN New york? The Forum for Urban Design and Storefront for Art and Architecture decided to launch our own small experiment, offering 20 bicycles for free 30minute rentals from 97 Kenmare and a satellite location. With an average of about two dozen riders per day, we assembled the following reactions: Many of the visitors to the New York Bike-Share Project do not currently own bicycles. They overwhelmingly said they would participate in a bike-share program if they didn’t have to worry about storing a bike in their apartment, or worrying about theft. hat are the Best reasoNs for LauNchiNg a Bike-share program iN New york? Bike-sharing is the greenest form of urban transportation second to walking. New York’s mass transit is over capacity, and capital improvements to our buses and subways can take billions of dollars and decades to implement. New York’s waterfront is widely inaccessible by current mass transit. Many of New York’s neighborhoods are not well-connected by current mass transit. For a bike-share program to be successful, democratic and helpful in New York, it must adhere to the following non-negotiable principles: he first haLf-hour must Be free. Bike-sharing is democratic transportation. In Lyon, 90% of trips clock in at less than 30 minutes—that is, at no cost to the user. New Yorkers may enjoy using the system for longer trips at some cost, but the pricing structure must ensure that short trips are free. ThERE MUST BE A SUFFICIENT DENSITY OF BIKES AND STATIONS. For a bike-share system to work, New Yorkers must be aware of the program, be reasonably certain that a bike will be available, and be confident that they can return their bike to a convenient location.
A good rule of thumb: bike stations should be on each avenue, and on every four streets. While a modest bike-share program might be an appealing first step, it must be highly dense in whatever its geographic area. A bold, dense program will be more visible, dependable and user-friendly. A BIKE-ShARE PROGRAM MUST BE INDEPENDENT AND FLExIBLE. Bike-sharing will be a component of New York’s mass transit network, but it must be independent of the MTA. This will allow the program the opportunity to launch quickly, adjust efficiently and remove itself from the politics of unwieldy city/state bureaucracies.
USERS MUST BE ABLE TO RENDER A BIKE IMMEDIATELY. A New York bike-share must be accessible to tourists as well as residents. Therefore, users must have the option of rendering a bike through a swipe of a credit-card. To imagine a bike-share program in New York, consider the following locations: wiLLiamsBurg/greeNpoiNt A neighborhood exploding in population and underserved by mass transit. pop: 160,338 residents ( according to 2000 Census data ) size: 4. 9 square miles use: short trips, recreation proposaL: 350 bikes at 20 stations hudsoN river park A linear park that spans most of Manhattan’s west side. se: short trips, commuting, recreation proposaL: 350 bikes at 20 stations SOUTh OF 14Th STREET A collection of neighborhoods with difficult east-west connections. use: short trips, commuting, recreation, tourism proposaL: 1,000 bicycles at 50 stations MANhATTAN BELOW 86Th STREET A high-density urban area clogged by automobile traffic and and suffering from an over-capacity mass transit system. use: short trips, commuting, recreation, tourism proposaL: 10,000 bicycles at 750 stations New york city—aLL five Boroughs The largest bike-share network in the world. se: short trips, commuting, recreation, tourism proposaL: 40,000 bicycles at 3,000 stations Skeptical New Yorkers have approached us with a number of legitimate questions and significant concerns as to whether a bike-share program could launch in this city. how wouLd it Be fiNaNced? Bike-shares can be paid for through municipal funds, advertising revenue and user fees. New York City would have to determine the ideal ratio. For any bikeshare program to be successful, user fees must be nominal, and the first half-hour must be free.
New York already has an outdoor-furniture contract with Cemusa. It could either solicit new bids for a large bike-share program, or fit a small program into its current Cemusa contract. europeaNs may emBrace BikiNg, But isN’t New york car-ceNtric city? It may be currently a car-centric city, but that doesn’t need to stay that way. New York’s Department of Transportation is introducing more dedicated bike lanes as we speak. Building more bike lanes is not technologically difficult, it simply requires a shift in priorities.
And by the way, New York already has a strong history of transportation going beyond cars. The MTA runs one of the largest urban mass-transit systems in the world—subways and buses have a ridership of 2. 2 billion annually. what aBout theft aNd vaNdaLism? Today’s generation of bike-shares are extremely difficult to steal. Bike stations are monitored by GPS systems. Subscription cards track each user’s activity and can connect to each user’s credit cards or bank accounts. When locked into the bike station, bikes are virtually impossible to disconnect.
Every successful bike-share program includes a maintenance component, and New York would have to insist on one here. The company that installs and maintains our system would be responsible for fixing and /or replacing broken bikes. New york’s streets are precious commodities. where wouLd the Bike racks fit? It would be difficult, but not impossible, to find sidewalk locations for bike rack installation. Other alternatives include installing locations on parkland or city-owned property, or replacing spots for two parallel-parked cars with a rack for 20 bikes. hat aBout heLmets aNd LiaBiLity? New York does not legally require the use of bike helmets. Should the law change, or should the city decide that a bike-share program should require helmets, either the program would offer them, or the users would need to supply their own. Before the city engages a private company to provide a bike-share program, questions of liability will need to be addressed. New York should look to other American cities—especially Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D. C. —to explore legal models.
Over the course of the five-day project, we have found that a bike-share project would fit neatly within many of the city’s current initiatives. NYC 2030 Regardless of the outcome of the congestion pricing plan, the Mayor has found wide agreement that Manhattan’s traffic levels are crippling and unsustainable. Should congestion pricing succeed, a bike-share program would provide a complimentary carrot to those persuaded to leave their cars at home. Should it fail, perhaps New York should look not to London but to Paris for inspiration in greening its city. ND AVENUE SUBWAY At best, the 2nd Avenue Subway will be completed in 2020 and cost billions of dollars. Its ability to provide Manhattan’s east side with adequate public transit will be worth the investment but a bike-share program would provide an immediate transit alternative at a small fraction of the cost. GOVERNORS ISLAND Last month, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation announced five landscape architects as finalists to help the city transform the island into “the park at the center of the world. One proposal—by West 8, Rogers Marvel Architects and Diller Scofidio + Renfro—embraced bike-sharing. All could easily adopt it. Indeed, a bike-share program could launch as early as next summer. EAST RIVER WATERFRONT New York’s city planning office and parks department have prioritized residential development and public open space on both sides of the East River waterfront. None of these new parks and residential buildings are well-served by public transit. Connecting New Yorkers to their waterfront will require a flexible, additional transit alternative.