Bicycle Sharing Programs Enjoying Widespread Success in Europe

Bicycle-sharing programs that allow riders to pick up a bike in one city location and ride it to another are growing rapidly in Europe thanks to new technology to keep track of the bikes and increasing environmental awareness. The New York Times reports that cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Lyon, Pamplona, Rome, Dusseldorf, and Rennes, France have all become sites of successful bike-sharing programs. In Barcelona, a program called “Bicing” offers riders 6,000 bicycles at 375 stands throughout the city. Technology is key, as riders use electronic cards to rent bikes parked at mechanized docks, with the cost of the ride — often as cheap as 30 cents per hour — being deducted from their bank accounts. The bikes in Barcelona are often being rented 10 times a day and demand cannot keep pace with supply. Paris’ Velib’ program, with 20,000 bikes, has been an enormous success. The bike-sharing boom in Europe is prompting other cities, including Shanghai, to launch their own pilot programs.