As Americans start looking for greener, more affordable ways to get around, itâ€™s no surprise that bike sharing has skyrocketed in the United States since its introduction. Since 2008, 30 U.S. cities have launched bike sharing programs, and several others are in developmental stages.
If youâ€™re unfamiliar, bike sharing gives city dwellers the ability to rent a bike from various local kiosks and return it to any other location, creating a hassle-free (and gas-free) way to get around.
According to Capital Bikeshareâ€™s 2011 Member Survey, more than 41% of users claim to have cut down on car trips after joining the bike sharing program, driving an average of 523 miles less every year. This calculates to a reduction of 487.7 pounds of CO2 released into the air per person. It’s also created a surge in local bike shop sales, with many users deciding to go out and get their own bike after starting the program.
Most of these bike share systems offer short-term, monthly, and annual membership options with no additional fees for trips under 30 minutes. Annual memberships are usually around $75, considerably lower than what youâ€™d expect to pay for even one month (or in some cases, one week) of gas. According to a 2011 Member Survey, Capital Bikeshare users saved an average of $819 per year on driving-related expenses such as parking, gas, and maintenance. Others claim to have saved money by switching from taxi rides to bike sharing.
The Washington D.C.-based Capital Bikeshare is one of the oldest and largest in the country, boasting 1,670 bikes at 175 stations. Its 2010 launch started with 1,100 bikes at 114 stations, and its first year gathered 18,000 members.
Large and small cities alike are coming out with bike share programs including Denver, Boston, New York City, and Chattanooga, TN. Los Angeles and Fort Worth are expected to launch their programs in 2013. Looking for a program near you? Check this map to find one.
Have you used bike share in your city?