B-cycle joined the small group of companies offering turnkey bike sharing systems for cities three years ago, and they have had a big impact on cities that have embraced bicycles as an alternate mode of transport. Denver's successful B-cycle system is a good example. In three years, the city has built a ridership of 4500 annual members and over 30,000 single day users. Pretty impressive for a new system and considering their season is only 9-months long.
Today I had the oppurtunity to try the system first hand at a demo put on by B-cycle, The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and Midwest Bike Share. For people that aren't familiar with bike sharing systems, let's take a step back; the systems are designed as an alternate transportation option for short trips, not an all day bike rental. When you purchase a $5 day pass, you get unlimited trips that are less than 30 minutes. In the U.S., 40% of our daily trips are less than 2 miles, and 90% are taken by car. In a city, those 2 mile trips are often nearly as fast on a bike as a car, and definitely take less than 30 minutes. Considering a 2-mile ride takes 10 to 15 minutes, the question really is, why not ride a bike?
Milwaukee's system is designed to start with 25 kiosks and 10 bikes per kiosk. The kiosks will be spaced close enough together, and in the higher traffic areas of the city, so a kiosk won't be more than 4 or so blocks from your destination. Pick up a bike near the train station, you're home or business, and cruise around town to another kiosk close to your destination. A lot of people ask, how will I know there is an open space at my destination, or is there a bike available when I need it. Fortunately, B-cycle has this covered. Just check out the easy on-line map with live data available for each B-cycle city.