Top 10 Bike Sharing Programs

With bike share programs popping up all over the world, it's easier than ever to skip the rental car and see a new city on two wheels -- or cut your carbon footprint by riding around town instead of driving. And as each city puts its program together, the focus is on one very important aesthetic: The bikes themselves.

washington dc bike share
From the all-American red of Capital Bike Share to the sophisticated muted tones of Italy's BikeMi, here's some of my favorite bike share bikes around the world. The patriotic red of Washington, D.C's Capital Bikeshare bikes is just part of what turned this 2008 upstart into the biggest bike-sharing program in the country: Though it already boasts more than 1,000 cycles at 114 stations around town, the group announced plans to add nearly 300 more bikes in the fall of 2011.

paris bike share
Paris launched its bike share program, Velib, in July 2007 with more than 10,000 bicycles placed around the City of Lights; by its fourth birthday in 2011, the program was offering more than 17,000 bikes at 1,202 rental stations. But who wouldn't want to pick up one of the sleek gray bikes -- complete with a front basket -- to avoid the traffic while picking up a baguette from your favorite boulangerie?
istanbul bike share
Istanbul isn't a city that's known for its friendliness to bicyclists -- one rider quoted in a piece on EurasiaNet said, "Other drivers on the motorway act as if they don't see you. You are a ghost." -- but if you're willing to brave the steep terrain and the vehicles, you can grab one of these royal blue bikes from Ispark.
melbourne bike share
Melbourne also chose a vibrant blue for its shared bike program, which launched in 2010 but didn't get rolling quite as quickly as organizers had hoped. A year after the program's beginning, Australia's The Age reported that riders were still making about 2,000 fewer trips each month than needed to subsidize the cost of the program, but that plans for additional bike parking locations could improve the ridership.
boston bike share
Hubway, the bike share program for Boston, Massachusetts, debuted in the city in July, 2011, with more than 600 cycles installed at 61 stations from Seaport Boulevard to Harvard Stadium. The city has also installed or has plans for a total of 12 more miles of bike paths to make it easier for residents to get from Point A to Point B on these metallic gray cycles with Green Monster-inspired detailing.
taipei bike share
There's no missing these bright green, red, and yellow bikes from the Taipei bike sharing program Youbike which began in March 2009 with a pilot program of 500 cycles that were used by 20,000 customers in the first six weeks.
montreal bike share
Following the success of the Parisian Velib program, Montreal also jumped into the world of bike sharing.
They started what the New York Times called "the continent's most ambitious" program, Bixi, in May 2009, with 3,000 cycles.
london bike sharing
Not sure you want to brave a rental car -- complete with driving on the wrong side of the road -- in London? Use the Barclay's Cycle Hire instead, where you can rent an appropriately sedate navy blue bike (and still feel like you're traveling like a local thanks to the Underground-inspired logo on the side).
minneapolis bike sharing
Nice Ride, the Minneapolis, Minnesota bike sharing program, has been offering up these flashy fluorescent bikes since 2010 -- with more than 100,000 riders hitting the streets in the first season alone. But don't expect to get a bike if you're visiting in the winter: The snowy season means the bikes are only out from April to November.
milan bike sharing
BikeMi, the bike sharing service that provides residents and guests of Milan, Italy, with their own two wheels, plans to fill the city with about 5,000 cycles -- making it easy to go from art museums and coffee shops to the Duomo and the flea markets sans car.

Look at the Asshole in the Bike Lane

The Speakeasy Tattoo establishment is on one of Toronto's busiest bike lanes, right next door to the Sam James Coffee Bar, said to be the best in town. People dash in for a coffee, but they take their time pulling a latte. The Sam James people try to encourage good behaviour among their customers with a sign outside their door,
 And the Tattoo parlour put up their own sign:

But that didn't work either; people still parked their Hummers in the bike lane, as in this photo. So they set up a camera in their shop and started a website, logically called Look at the Asshole in the Bike Lane. It is quite festive, as they shoot their photos through the Christmas decorations.

Some retailers and stores hate bike lanes, and complain constantly that they reduce their business. Here's a shoutout for two businesses that do the opposite, they recognize that there are a whole lot of people who rely on bike lanes every day.

Bike Storage Getting Smaller and Better

More and more of us are riding bikes, and more and more of us are living in small spaces. This creates a problem of where you put the bikes, and what kind of bike you ride. In London, Quarterre Studios have developed a line of bicycle accessories.
Quarterre is looking to bridge the divide between furniture and interior design and the reality of everyday life on two wheels. They have used their backgrounds in the automotive industry to create design solutions that are functional, efficient and stylish.
The Shadow is a bent piece of steel with a bit of leather, not much to it at all.
The freestanding, cantilevered form needs no mounting and can accommodate most wheel sizes. Crafted in steel, it is finished with leather trim for hanging a helmet and a high friction base to aid bike stability.
The Hood is a wall-mounted hanger.
The architecturally inspired form is made from folded sheet steel that will support a bike securely by its top tube and can be mounted easily to any solid wall. It is trimmed in high quality leather to protect the bikes frame.
It's unusual in that it can hold two bikes, and just leans against the wall. It is all FSC sourced woods with leather trim.
Sculpted with wood and metal, its adjustable arms can be tailored to fit each bike frame’s geometry. The stand can be leant against any wall or inverted to clear floor area in smaller spaces.
None of these are cheap, but if you are living in small spaces it helps to have stuff that is nice to look at. It's also nice to see that designers are giving serious thought to how to deal with the problem.
More at Quarterre Products, via Book of Joe

Infographics Comparing CO2 and Transportation Modes

A new study by the European Cyclists Federation (ECF) looked at the CO2 impact of biking, driving cars, taking the bus, and found - not too surprisingly, but it's good to have the hard data to back up any claims - that if the countries of the EU-27 reached a level of biking similar to Denmark's, that reductions of CO2 emissions of between 63 and 142 million tons per year could be possible by 2050. This would be 12 to 26% of the target reduction set for the transport sector by the European 2050 targets.

This isn't some pipe dream. 2050 is far enough in the future that there's time to make infrastructure investments to bring up the level of "bike-friendliness" in cities where it is lagging, and it's long enough for smart incentives to work their magic and discourage car usage (especially in cities and for commuting).
As you can see in the picture above, bike LCA came to 21g of CO2 per kilometer, electric-assist bikes were 22g, buses scored 101g of CO2/km, and passenger cars got an average of 271g CO2/km (and that's just for short trips that could be replaced by bikes, which is what the study focused on).
Another thing to keep in mind when looking at the pictures in this post and in reading the numbers in the study (PDF) is that the ECF has been extremely conservative in its estimates, trying to avoid any accusations of being biased in favor of bikes. They went as far as not including infrastructure for cars, or things like parking and maintenance, in their calculations. This means that with a more realistic set of assumptions, bikes would come even more ahead.

Another thing of note in the study is the part where they discuss the life-cycle impact of cars (page 12 of the study). They found that 77% of the impact came from what they call 'tank to wheels', or the burning of the fuel. This means that fuel efficiency makes a big difference; while it isn't nearly as green as biking, if you have to drive a car, make sure it is the most fuel-efficient model that fits your needs and drive it sanely to keep MPG as high as possible.

Via ECF (pdf), BikePortland

Proof of If You Build it, They will Ride

Felix Salmon at Reuters notes that since Janette Sadik-Khan was appointed and started installing bike lanes, the number of cyclists on the road has more than doubled. This is good news for cyclists, but also for drivers; if they are on bikes, they are not in cars or trains. Salmon writes:
The lesson of this chart, then, is that if you build bike lanes, cyclists will appear to fill them. That’s fantastic news, since cities with lots of cyclists are always the most pleasant cities to live and work in — even for people who don’t bike themselves.
More in Reuters

Cool New Bike Rack with a Message

This hot pink bicycle stand occupies a space the size of one parking bay and holds 10 bicycles. Originally commissioned by the London Festival of Architecture, the Car Bike Rack is designed by Cyclehoop and popping up all over east London as a way to determine where the demand for bicycle parking exists and promote cycling.

The stand is an ironic take with a serious message. Cars cause pollution and congestion, and their parking spaces could be dedicated to bikes, not cars. The "car" bike rack is made out of steel and anchored into the ground with bolts so it is good and sturdy. At the same time, it is a flat pack design, so that it is simple to transport and set up at events. It can also include a bike pump and be used for branding.

The bike rack has been spotted in many places, and for fun the creators have inserted a QR tag so that users can scan it and find out more about the project, and leave their comments. This is cool, providing practical bike infrastructure, and a message and urban art, all at the same time.

Cyclehoop is a young, award-winning company launched by a designer who had his bike stolen, and started to think about how he could make a more secure lock. From those roots, the company grew to include designers and architects who specialise in producing innovative and original indoor and outdoor bicycle parking products.
Another of their ideas is the communal Bike Hangar, where local residents can safely store their bicycles. The local council has now placed four of them in housing projects in the area.
They can be parked on the street--it takes up half a parking space--or outside a building. The lockers hold five bicycles and each resident pays an annual fee and gets a key to secure the bicycle in the spot. The lockers are easily transportable and secure.

The Bicycle: It's That Simple

This is a beautiful video that makes you want to get on 2 wheels and ride around the city for an afternoon.

Chicago's First Protected Bike Lane Opened

Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has said that he wants to make his city more bike-friendly, and to help with that he has pledge that 100 miles of protected bike lanes would be built during his first term. The first of those is now open to the public, and as far as I can tell, it has been a great success so far! StreetFilms has shot the video below about it. It's great and should be shown to the mayor and urban planners of all cities around North-America.

Ever Wonder What Road Fatalities Look Like On A Map

A group of transportation specialists from the UK, ITO World, has taken US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and overlaid it on OpenStreetMap interactive maps to create a stark reminder of the importance of road safety. It also doesn't require a huge leap of the imagination to think that if our transportation system was greener - more mass transit, more separated bike lanes, more walkable neighborhoods - that a lot of those deaths wouldn't have occurred.
The data shows fatalities for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, etc, between 2001 and 2009.

For each incident you can see the person's age, sex and the year in which the crash took place. Where information is not available fields are left blank. (that's what the little colored squares show) Follow this link to check out the ITO map of road fatalities. There's also a similar map for the UK, and they want to create one for Canada.

Cycling Explained

This is awesome and so true!