Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bike Sharing 101

Monterey, Calif. -- Bike sharing. It's not new. My friend Andrew in St. Petersburg was talking about having a fleet of bicycles for public consumption in St. Pete. And even my college alumni magazine -- I attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY -- had bikes on its cover to highlight its bike-sharing program.

This morning at the Bicycle Leadership Conference, four speakers offered four very different bike-sharing programs.

Gilles Vesco from Lyon, France was in town and talked about 4,000 bikes at 350 stations in his city of 300,000. He said local government must be committed to the program to make it happen. It's all about shifting from individual cars to public bikes.

Jamie Smith at Emory University in Atlanta talked about 80 percent of all bike checkouts at Emory came from students.

Jennifer Paedon from Lockheed Martin started a bike-sharing program at her Lockheed Martin campus in Sunnyvale, Calif. about 38 miles from here said he campus of 8,000 employees uses 250 bikes and has another 128 on order.

Andrew Davison of the ad and marketing firm of Crispin-Porter & Bogusky said his company has partnered with Trek and Humana to come up with a BCycle bike-sharing program that will start with Denver, where 1,000 bikes will be available at 65 stations. It's a cool program that involves people paying for temporary use of 35-pound bikes that can carry another 35 pounds of stuff in a bag in front, with the bike, the dock and the kiosk as the main elements. He said it won't be money-making and that it's all about creating an urban transportation solution and a bicycle culture change. The bikes would plug in at the hub at the stations, some of which would be solar-powered. He said other cities like New York, Boston and Chicago are interested and they're looking to sign up 25 cities in the next 3-5 years. Andrew used to work at Pearl Izumi and was a former bike shop owner, so it's coming full circle for him.

Next up: The economics of bicycling.

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