Develop A Bike-Sharing Program

Those sightseers who have been to a destination such as a beach have most likely encountered a basic bicycle-rental program.

A bike rider's view of the road.

There are now sophisticated, automated bike-sharing programs in several metropolitan cities, such as Paris, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Denver, and Miami, with upcoming programs planned for Boston and New York City.

Even colleges and universities seeking to help their student body become healthier and lighten their carbon footprint are adopting this classic mode of transportation.

How does a department even begin to start a bike-sharing program? And should it develop an automated system or start small with a basic rental system?

Basic Infrastructure

For starters, the people using a bike-share program need a safe place to ride. This may be any venue from a designated bike lane painted on the edge of a road to bike paths.

Bike-share programs also work well when paired with an existing public-transit system. Bikers ride the bus then rent a bike to reach their destination. Bike rentals located in high foot-traffic areas fare much better than those tucked away in remote areas.

“Bicycle-sharing systems work best when launched with a large number of docking stations,” says John Z. Wetmore, producer of Perils for Pedestrians, a monthly television series that promotes awareness of issues affecting the safety of people who walk and bicycle.

“If a system is too small, it will connect too few destinations and will not get much use.”

For locations that cannot accommodate a large number of docking stations at different destinations, a more traditional bicycle-rental facility is the better option.

Best Bikes

The best bike for this program will be low-maintenance and easily available so 90 percent of the population can hop on and ride. Additionally, the bike needs to be durable enough that it can handle being used 10 to 20 times more than a private-use bicycle.

“Typically, we recommend a cruiser-style bicycle. We find it meets the qualities needed, and is a fun, entertaining, classic ride that adds an element of style to the program,” says Jonathan Sobin, vice president of the Collegiate Bicycle Company.

“The bikes can also be branded with the colors and logos.”

Although the bike should be a fun ride, it should not be nice enough that someone would want to steal it.

Students at the New York Institute of Technology go low-tech when navigating the campus.

“Our bikes are painted in the school colors of white and blue, and the New York Institute of Technology [NYIT] logos are branded all over them,” says Greg Banhazl, director of business development for NYIT, which recently has introduced cruising bikes to the campus community.

“If I wanted to impress my friends, I wouldn’t be stealing this bike.”

The cruiser-style bike is one most people are familiar with, even if they have to think back to their childhood banana-seat bike. It is designed only to get a person from point A to point B–not to race.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Urban Bike Case Study
  2. Bike Lasers
  3. Pedal Power
  4. Pedaling Toward Progress
  5. Gaining Ground
  • Columns
  • Departments