Bike riding in major U.S. cities has nearly doubled over the past ten years, an one major source of bicycling’s recent resurgence are bike share programs that have sprung up in cities across America. This programs are proving especially popular with the young and hip.
In the quest to seek out green transportation, it is hard to beat riding a bike and many U.S. cities have recognized this. Bike share programs have taken many American cities by storm over the past two years. A bike share program is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a short term basis for a small fee, providing cheap and convenient transportation to tourists and locals alike.
I first experienced a bike share program while I was traveling overseas in 2008. The bike share programs that I experienced at first were unregulated but highly effective; essentially bikes were left in certain parts of the city for riders to take and then drop off at other unofficial drop zones. Sort of an honor system at play but it seemed to work, even though for a while it felt like I was taking someone’s bike. I did notice as I ventured more into Western Europe the bike share programs became more regulated and thus more organized however there was a fee involved.
In 2011 I was pleased to learn that a sponsored bike share program was coming to my city of Boston Massachusetts. Called “The Hub Way” and sponsored by New Balance, the Boston bike share program has been in action now for two years and has been a major success.
The Hub Way has a number of cost effective use options that seem to be working as well as a strong following – expansion of The Hub Way is underway and the statistics of the past two years are encouraging:
Total trips: 1,069,766
Total miles ridden: 1.2 million
Total calories burned: 40 million
Total pounds of carbon offset: 285 tons
I have used The Hub Way many times and have found the system convenient, easy to navigate, and incredibly cost effective. Given the talent and innovative spirit found in Boston small business have climbed on board with The Hub way to make the bike sharing experience more enjoyable and even safer.
Not to be outdone by Boston, in May of 2013 New York City launched Citi Bike NYC’s first bike share program. The program has been a massive success with more than 288,000 subscriptions by September with 80,826 annual members. Citi Bike celebrated its 100th day of operation September 4th. To date the bike share program provides 6,000 bikes at 330 stations in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Citi Bike is expected to generate $36 million for NYC each year. Bicycling in NYC has continued to grow at a rapid pace since 2007.
The future of bike sharing in America is strong. Seattle Washington and Aspen Colorado have recently put bike share programs into action. Even smaller American cities like Portland and South Portland Maine are working hard to make a bike share program available for their residence.
While only 0.61% of all U.S. commuters use bicycles to get to work studies have shown that that number is on the rise. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey an estimated 864,883 people commuted by bicycle in 2012 an increase of around 10% since 2011.
If you have used the bike share program in your city we would love to hear about your experience. Sound off in the comments below.
Image: Jim Henderson
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison