Bike sharing is an optimal method of transportation. American cities and universities, eager for greener solutions to urban congestion, are rushing to set up bicycle-sharing programs similar to those launched in Europe in recent years. Washington DC will likely be the first in the nation to offer two-wheeled transport at various locations for a nominal fee, under a deal with advertising giant Clear Channel Outdoor. About 120 bicycles will be deployed in the first phase of the Washington program at 10 locations around the city. Details such as costs for usage and membership have yet to be announced. The launch date has not yet been set but is likely to be in March or April of 2008.
San Francisco has reached a deal for a similar program with Clear Channel, while other cities including New York, Chicago and Portland, Oregon, are studying bike sharing options.
“There is a lot of interest in the US, and 2008 is going to be a very big year for bicycle programs,” said Paul DeMaio, a consultant to several municipalities on bike programs. DeMaio said the highly touted ‘Velib’ program launched in July in Paris — its name a contraction of the French words “velo” (bike) and “liberte” (freedom) — drew attention to bicycle programs and spawned interest around the globe, from Montreal to Beijing.
Martina Schmidt, president of Clear Channel unit Adshel, said the company is in the process of setting up programs in Washington and San Francisco modeled on similar ones it operates in Barcelona, Stockholm, Oslo, and Rennes, France.
As in most of the European programs, the costs of the bicycles are offset by revenues from advertising at bus shelters and other “outdoor furniture.”
Schmidt says this is a win-win proposition for most cities.
“Based on the experience in Europe, cities see that traffic is congested and everyone is looking for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation,” she said.
Schmidt said Clear Channel will be using a “sturdy” bike built for these purposes, which can be adapted to people of various heights. It has some special features including a small front wheel that makes it more maneuverable, but also quirky enough to discourage theft. They will also have automatic lighting for night riding.
Read more: AFP
Story found via the Bike-sharing Blog