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Get ready for the battle of the bike sharing networks — in which city residents or tourists can rent bicycles by the hour or day, often through subscription plans. B-Cycle announced on Monday that it plans to launch a bike sharing network this week in Denver, Colo.
It’s the latest in a string of cities gearing up to launch bike sharing programs this year, some of them employing electronic docking stations powered by solar panels and connected to wi-fi networks, and giving users access to real-time info about bike availability through their smartphones. Paris, with the Velib program it launched back in 2007, helped popularize the idea of bike sharing networks and a growing number of cities are beginning to take up the charge.
All of this fits into the larger trends of smarter transportation systems, innovation around providing mobility as a service, and unconventional players taking on new roles in the transit game — from nonprofits to advertising giants to health insurance firms. These 10 programs offer a glimpse of how bike sharing is putting technology to work, who’s paying what, and what you might expect in your own city sometime soon.
|City||Who’s Involved||How It Works||Scale & Timeline||What It Costs|
|B-cycle (made up of health insurance firm Humana, Trek Bicycle and ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky) designed the system. Non-profit Denver Bike Sharing will own and operate it.||Users can sign up for membership online or at a kiosk. Access card required to unlock bikes, which can be returned to any other station around the city.||Launching Apr. 2010 with 500 bikes at 50 stations.||$40/year for students. $65/year membership (unlimited). $55/year per employee for corporations. Free first 30 mins, with rate increasing from $1.10 for each additional half-hour.|
|London Cycle Hire
(aka Boris Bikes)
|System developed by Montreal’s BIXI. City transportation authority (Transport for London) still seeking commercial sponsor, AFP reports.||Users can pick up/drop off bikes unlimited number of times during rental period.||Scheduled to launch Jul. 2010 with 6K bikes at 400 stations.||Installation/operation costs expected to total £140M over six years. Subscription options include £45/year, £5/week or £1/day access. Usage fees apply after first 30 mins (£1 up to 1 hour, £4 up to 90 mins, £6 up to 2 hours) the UK Independent reports.|
|System developed and slated for installation by Montreal’s BIXI. Set to be operated by Royal Automobile Club of Victoria and Alta Planning & Design.||BIXI’s portable, solar-powered, wi-fi enabled stations can be relocated based on demand. BIXI will supply parts, training, tech support.||Installation of 610 bikes at 52 stations scheduled for May 2010, program launch scheduled for June 2010.||To be announced.|
|Operated by Clear Channel Outdoor Mexico.||Registration required online or at the Ecobici office to get an RFID swipe card, which unlocks the bike.||Launched in Feb. 2010 with 1,100 bikes at 85 stations. According to The Bike-sharing Blog, plans call for expansion to 6K bikes.||300 pesos/year subscription.|
|System developed and installed by Montreal’s BIXI, which will also manage customer service. Backed by Blue Cross, Bike Walk Twin Cities, city government. Non-profit Nice Ride Minnesota running the program. Ads will be sold for individual stations.||Full-time crews shuttling around in small electric vehicles will clean/ maintain the fleet. Tourists can sign up for day use via kiosk/credit card reader at station. Solar-powered kiosks can be removed in winter. Day pass sold at kiosk. Subscriptions sold via web or phone.||Scheduled to launch Jun. 2010 with 1K bikes at 80 stations.||Bike Walk Twin Cities allocated $1.75M in federal funds. City will provide $350K. Additional $1M will come from tobacco settlement funds through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. $60/year subscription for unlimited number of rentals April-November.|
|Montreal BIXI||Operated by BIXI, Montreal’s Public Bike System Company.||Subscriptions sold via web or phone. Day pass available at solar-powered, wi-fi enabled kiosks. Portable stations can be relocated based on demand, removed during winter. Bike availability updated in real-time, accessible via web, iPhone or other mobile device.||Launched in 2009 with 3K bikes. Now has 5K bikes at 400 stations.||$78 season pass (May-November, depending on weather), $28/month, $5/day. Usage fees charged after 30 mins. Max 24-hour rental. Montreal invested some $13M to develop and start the program.|
|Paris Velib||Operated by French advertising firm JCDecaux in exchange for advertising rights to 1,600 outdoor displays. City gets subscription/user fees.||Swipe credit card to unlock bike from electronic docking station. Fleet of transport vehicles redistributes bikes.||Launched in 2007 with 20K bikes at 1,450 stations.||JCDecaux reportedly invested $140M to set up the system and collects 80M euros/year from ad space provided under Velib deal with city. As of late 2009, JCDecaux paid $5.5M/year to Paris. Including start-up maintenance costs, bikes cost $3,500 apiece, NYTimes reports.|
|Toronto, Canada||Operated by Montreal’s BIXI, which the Toronto Star reports is now seeking sponsorships.||Plan calls for users to swipe a credit card or pass.||10-year program starting May 2011. 1K bikes at 80 sites (pending approval from public works committee).||City to guarantee $4.8M 10-year loan. Expected to cost $1.3M/year to run. Subscriptions go for $30/month or $80/year, plus usage fees after 30 mins.|
|Toyama City, Japan
|Backed by city government. Run by Cyclocity, a subsidiary of French ad agency JCDecaux. Revenue expected to come from ads on bikes and at stations.||Bikes can be returned to any station in the city, placed every 300-500 meters in central Toyama.||Launched Mar. 2010 with 150 bikes at 15 stations.||City reportedly invested 150M yen. Annual subscription costs 700 yen/month. Week-long pass costs 1,000 yen. First 30 mins free.|
|Clear Channel Outdoor runs SmartBike for district. Revenue from fees and subscriptions goes to DOT. Clear Channel gets exclusive ad rights at bus shelters.||Sign up for membership/access card online. Availability of bikes at different stations can be checked online. 3-hour max rental period.||Launched in 2008 with 100 bikes at 10 stations.||Individual subscriptions cost $40/year.|
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