Bicing — Great (3rd Generation) Bicycle Sharing Program
Bicycle sharing programs started out as simple systems in which bikes were painted a certain color and then made available for use for free by anyone in the community, to be picked up or dropped off at undetermined places. The problem with these systems, naturally, was that there was no accountability or security and the bikes would eventually disappear.
In recent years, some more sophisticated programs have been developed in various European countries. One type of more sophisticated program requires that a cash deposit be made to borrow a locked bike and then once the bike is returned the deposit is returned. More sophisticated than this, a few newer programs (such as Bicing) were recently launched in which a customer must become a member of the program to borrow a bike and then the person is able to unlock bikes with their membership card through a fairly sophisticated computer system (similar to carsharing programs such as Zipcar and Flexcar).
Barcelona’s system is one of the most successful to date. It is interesting because it is only open to Barcelonians — not tourists. They can pay a yearly fee of 30 Euros and then get a bike for free for half an hour anytime. If they want it for more than half an hour, they pay 30 cents per every extra 30 minutes. They can return bikes to any of the hundreds of bike parking “stations” around the city. The system started with 100 stations and 1,500 bikes. The system blew-up, was hugely popular, and today it consists of 6,000 bikes and 375 stations.
The system cut into the transportation infrastructure for cars a little bit, and generated some controversy at the beginning, but it seems that people have come to realise more and more the benefits of bicycle transportation for their city. Similar to Bogota, Barcelona has transformed its city into a more bicycle and pedestrian focused place, and as a result “the number of cars coming into Barcelona (has been reduced) by 15 percent.”
Enjoy the photos and YouTube video of this great bike sharing program below!
Image Credit 1: synes via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: Paco CT via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 3: Altamar via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 4: frodrig via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 5: almogaver via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 6: JesuSarmiento via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 7: Maufdi via flickr under a Creative Commons license