Anaheim launched California’s first bike-sharing program on Saturday joining Denver, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami, Boulder, Madison, New York City and Portland as one of the major U.S. cities to implement the program. Bike-sharing is a very simple concept. Cities and/or private companies provide kiosks with bikes that can be “checked out” with a credit or membership card. The membership card costs a relatively small amount (in Anaheim it’s $75.00 for a year). The goal is to promote short trips by commuters so the first 30 or 60 minutes is usually free. The bike can be “returned” to any kiosk in town.
There are many advantages to implementing bike sharing programs in major cities. Bicycle-sharing overcomes common riding deterrents like theft and difficulty finding secure storage. In addition, bicycle-sharing programs promote investment in bicycle infrastructure, it creates construction and maintenance jobs, it provides low-cost alternative transportation between transit points and major destinations, it provides cycling opportunities for people who don’t usually cycle, and it can be a publicity boon for cities.
Anaheim’s pilot program will consist of 100 bikes at 10 kiosks near metro stations and major commuter centers. Depending on how the program performs it may be extended to other California cities including San Francisco and the Bay Area.
A bike-sharing program in San Francisco could be a perfect fit in many areas of the city. Bike kiosks around the new 1.5 miles of separated bikeway in Golden Gate Park could be useful to both commuters and tourists. Bike kiosks in the Castro district, along Market Street and Pier 39 (especially if biking infrastructure is improved during the Market Street improvement project) and even along the Treasure Island route when it is complete, could all improve the transportation situation in San Francisco.
Over the next year, cycling advocates will be keeping a close eye on the situation in Anaheim as it could have major repercussions for the rest of California. In the meantime San Franciscans should begin to consider what a bike-sharing program could do for the city.
Here are some additional bike-sharing stats from Bikes Belong:
- 43% of Denver B-Cycle users said they replaced car trips with bike rides. (Denver B-Cycle, 2010)
- Velib’ (Paris’s bike sharing program) reduced Paris traffic 5% in its first year (Bremner, C., and Tourres, M., 2008)
- 89% of Velib’ users said it allowed them to move around Paris more easily (Velib’, 2008)
- More than 400 jobs are connected to Montreal’s Bixi (Bixi, 2010)
- 96% of first-year users of Lyon, France’s Velo’V had not ridden in Lyon before (Holtzman, D., 2008)
- 23% of trips on Minneapolis’ Nice Ride would have been by motor vehicle (Nice Ride, 2010)
- Bicycling increased 44% in Lyon within the first year it introduced bike sharing (Buhrmann, S., 2008)
- Bicycling increased 70% in Paris since Velib’ was introduced in July 2007 (Bremner, C., and Tourres, M., 2008)