Share the Road, and Your Bike: Bike Share Programs Across the U.S.

For some, bike share program bikes are a good tourist indicator. But for others, people see the uniquely designed bikes roaming their streets as a social revolution, as an alternative to congested streets and inactive lifestyles. Although biking around town isn’t a new idea, bike share programs are a relatively new concept that are sweeping some cities by storm. Here is an overview of the benefits, locations, and different programs that are changing each city they inhabit from an urban landscape  full of exhaust to a blooming benchmark for healthy city development:

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
-John F. Kennedy

The Benefits

Each car that remains off the street is a signal for success of bike share programs. Forget the morning commute and red lights along the way. Bike share programs provide a great way to get around without flooding the streets with car exhaust and aggravated drivers.

Bicycles get infinite miles per gallon. Or as some like to say, each burrito that I eat adds miles to my bicycle fuel tank. But the matter still stays the same, bikes are an incredibly low-impact mode of transportation that won’t leave a cloud of smog lingering over each city.

No Parking Tickets
Chances are, in a big city, parking alone will be more expensive than a standard bike share rate. Add in parking tickets, fuel costs, maintenance costs, and all that money you pump into your vehicle; suddenly the small investment to rent a bike will make fiscal sense on a city budget.

Let’s not forget the health advantage of riding a bike. According to a USA Today research, even 10 minutes of exercise can add hours of positive metabolic changes in your body. Why not get where you’re going, and get some exercise in while you’re at it?

Bike Share Programs

Alta Bicycle Share
Alta Bicycle Share is one of the largest, multiple locations, bike share program in the U.S. Chances are if you have rented a bike from a kiosk in a big city, it was one of their bikes. They operate in Columbus, OH; Bay Area, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; Chattanooga, TN; Boston, MA; and Washington D.C. Their largest hub resides in Chicago with over 4,000 available bikes to rent. Their exuberance about bike sharing comes from “the belief that sustainable and enjoyable environments is essential to the human experience.” Hard to argue with that one… Don’t see you’re city on the list? Contact their offices, they would be more than happy to help start a bike program near you.

Another budding bike share national program is B-Cycle. With a similar model to Alta Bicycle Share, B-Cycle operates in some of the smaller large cities including Denver & Boulder, CO; Broward, FL; Charlotte, NC; Salt Lake City, UT;  Des Moines, IA, and Houston & Fort Worth, TX. Check out their website for their “B-Effect Calculator” to enter your zip code and see the effect of 10% of your population using B-Cycles on carbon emissions, gallons of gas used and bought, the amount of reduced traffic, and the total calories burnt and weight lost. Truly a remarkable thing.

Local Programs
It just goes to show that cities can do this on their own. Granted, many of the programs required a grant, but it can be done. One of the best examples is Nice Ride, Minnesota; where the program blew past expectations in initial stages and since has aggressively expanded into neighborhoods and surrounding metropolitan areas. Or how about ZotWheels on the campus of UC, Irvine? It’s a program specifically for the college campus and open for all students and faculty, showing that it doesn’t always have to be on the city perspective to be effective.

Bike share programs are here to stay. The continuing growth, popularity, and feedback are evidence to that. Is your city not on the list of progressive bike share communities yet? All it takes is a little initiative and a voice. Get out and bug your city council, contact the big bike share programs, and be prepared to see the positive results of sharing not just the road in your community.

To read the full USA Today article on 10-minutes of exercise, check out this link.