What is Bike-Sharing?
If you are at all familiar with the Zip Car model of car-sharing, then you should already undersand how bike-sharing works. Essentially, in a bike-share program bicycles are made available at special kiosks or racks that are strategically placed around a city. Users can access the bikes 24 hours a day, either by inserting a credit card or by paying an annual fee for a membership card. The bikes can then be returned at any of the stations in the city. While the details of the program vary by city, the basic concept has caught on and spread like wildfire. In fact, there was even a bike-sharing program in place at this year's Democratic National Convention!
Bike-Sharing Goes Global
Especially as gas prices rise and the concept of livable cities becomes more popular, cities around the world have begun to embrace bike-sharing as a way to improve quality of life, meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, increase tourism, and so on. Paris, Barcelona, Washington, D.C., Montreal and Mexico City have all implemented such programs, while New York City, Portland and others are in the planning stages.