The Forth Generation of Bike Sharing
Inspired by the success of the large scale public bike sharing systems in Paris, Barcelona and Lyon (pictured on the right), we are in the process of developing the next generation of bike sharing system. If all goes as planned, in just over a year's time, we will be in a position to launch our first system.
Please contact us for more information.
The Evolution of Bike Sharing
The First Generation
Bike sharing begin back in the 1970s in Copenhagen as a utopian experiment where bicycles were placed on streets for people to use and then leave on the street for others to use. With no tracking of who is using the bikes, unfortunately the result was most of the bicycles being stolen.
The Second Generation
Not to be discouraged, Copenhagen had another go at it using distinctive bicycles with non-standard parts. The bicycles were locked to stations with a chain using a coin-activated system similar to that used for shopping and baggage carts. This type of system has faired better, but still the bicycles are basic, not very comfortable and rather unattractive. The system is mainly used by tourists.
The Third Generation
Bike sharing has hit the big times since the introduction of third generation systems in Lyon, Barcelona and Paris. The success of these systems is due mainly to the high number of bicycles and stations, the low cost of entry, good maintenance, redistribution and measures taken to reduce theft.
The systems consist of bicycles, stations, docks, a control centre and trucks to redistribute the bicycles. Stations are placed approximately 300 metres apart allowing users convenient access the stations. The bicycles are secured to docks via an electronic lock. Typically a station consists of a kiosk and between 10 and 40 bicycles depending on demand and space constraints.
Using the System
Users subscribe to the system via the kiosks or a web site. A credit card deposit of a few hundred dollars is authorized to encourage users to return the bicycles to the docks. To ride a bicycle, a subscriber checks out a bicycle using a smart card or an account id and a PIN at the kiosk. The customer then rides the bicycle and returns it to an available dock at station near to their destination. If there is no available dock, the customer must find a free dock at a nearby station to return the bicycle to. The various systems do attempt to help customers find free docks with varying degrees of success.
The cost for a yearly subscription ranges from $30 to $50 dollars. Shorter subscriptions are available on some systems. Typically the first hour is free. The cost in Paris rises significantly after the first half hour to encourage short trips. In Barcelona, the total usage is limited to two hours.
In the Paris and Barcelona, bicycles are used an average of 8 times per day. Each trip averages around 20 minutes.
Redistribution and Maintenance
Due to hills and unbalanced travel patterns, some stations will have no bicycles while others will be full with not available docks. To address this imbalance, bicycles are redistributed from full stations to empty stations via specially designed trucks. To ensure the system remains in good working order, maintenance personnel travel from station to station inspecting and repairing bicycles, docks and kiosks.