Bike share programs are all the rage in 2013

bike share docking station

Docking stations, like this one in St. Paul, MN, are used for checking out and returning bicycles (Photo by taestell, used with a Creative Commons license).

What do Denver and Hangzhou, China have in common? Besides being the coolest cities in their respective countries, their populace has access to checking out bikes like a library book from various kiosks scattered across the metropolis. Considering the burgeoning number of cities already investing in bicycle sharing programs or conducting feasibility studies, the data is certainly impressive. Around the world, 68 cities fostered bike-share systems in 2007, a number that reached nearly 500 by the end of last year. You do the math: in five years, these programs around the globe have increased more than sevenfold.

bike share increase graph

Bike-share data is trending upward annually, an encouraging sign for biking advocates (via The Bike-sharing Blog).

Bike-share programs offer a wealth of benefits to the cities that implement them. D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare is widely considered the premier system in the US. Whether or not it’s a coincidence, the District yields the highest proportion of commuters travelling by bicycle in the nation. Additionally, boosts to health and well being that stem from riding a bicycle reach a wider audience in populations with instituted bike-sharing programs; a study in Montreal noted that “residents who lived near a bike-share docking station were much more likely to be people who rode a bike.” Perhaps one of the more striking upsides of easily accessible bikes for citizens is that communities and neighborhoods are now connected in ways that public transit hadn’t been capable of reaching.

Share the road bikes and cars sign

With more bikes on the road as bike-sharing expands, it’s important for motorists and cyclists alike to safely coexist (via

Numerous municipalities have caught wind of the positive health and economic impacts that other cities with established bike-sharing programs have enjoyed. Major cities, such as Phoenix, are currently in the process of proposing bike-share systems for their communities. Meanwhile in Texas, where some say that everything is bigger, a 30 station network in Fort Worth is to launch in April. Fellow Lone Star cities Houston and San Antonio already possess such infrastructure.

Bike-share initiatives seem to have picked up the slack in a consortium of cities that lack in public transportation prowess. On the other hand, cities such as New York City, which features a wide-reaching transit network, even have plans in place to add 5,500 bicycles across 300 stations spread throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn this spring. The permeation of bike shares is an exciting prospect to those who like to pedal around town on two wheels. All in all, data suggests that as the sample size grows of cities that embrace bike-share programs, further will follow suit.