[These] are schemes in which numbers of bicycles are made available for shared use by individuals who do not own them. Publicly shared bicycles are a mobility service, mainly useful in urban environment for proximity travels. Proponents of public bike sharing argue that the concept can increase the usage of bicycles in an urban environment by removing some of its primary disadvantages to the individual rider, including loss from theft or vandalism, lack of parking or storage, and maintenance requirements.
Bicycle sharing began as a private nongovernmental concept by various independent groups and organizations in an effort to increase utilization of nonpolluting transportation and/or to provide mobility for those unable to afford other means of transport. Since 1974, municipal governments and public agencies have also introduced publicly-owned bicycles for shared use as general transport as well as to facilitateintermodal transport schemes. Proponents also argue that public bicycle sharing can increase overall bicycle usage, potentially reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while improving public health through exercise. Bicycle sharing schemes may arguably be considered an early manifestation of the economic concept known as “collaborative consumption“.
Bicycle sharing systems can be divided into two general categories: Community Bike programs organized mostly by local community groups or non-profit organizations; and Smart Bike programs implemented by municipalities, governmental agencies, or public-private partnerships, as in the case of Paris’Vélib’. The central concept of many of the systems is free or affordable access to bicycles for short trips inside the city, as an alternative to motorised public transport or cars, thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise and air-pollution.
It has been estimated that as of 2010, there were more than 200 such schemes operating worldwide.
I was reminded of the programs by the news in National Geographic that London will offer such a program.
Around the world, cycle-hire operators are rolling out bicycles that were tucked away for the cold and rainy months. Hundreds of new bikes and docking stations will join existing fleets, while many more cities, from Kailua to Tel Aviv to the Big Apple are joining the bike-sharing wave for the first time.
The idea is simple: Charge a nominal fee to give people all the benefits of cycling without the hassle of bike ownership. It’s an old idea, but the concept of a bicycle fleet for shared use has undergone a very modern makeover in recent years.
Today’s bikes are often equipped with GPS devices for tracking. Free and coin-deposit systems have given way to solar-powered, computerized docking stations designed to deter theft and afford easy installation. Users often can reserve a bicycle with a few taps on a smart phone, unlock a bike with the swipe of a smart card that links up with the local metro, and even track calories burned while pedaling.
Here in Busan, I have seen no evidence of any such program. I am not sure that such a program would work and my concerns are not necessarily about the safety of cyclists in the city. I am more concerned about the mountains. To get to my university, I ride along nearly flat, river- and creek- side paths and roads and feel quite safe for 90% of the route. The last 10% include about 200 metres vertical; something you don’t want just before arriving to teach -or study, or just about anything. For exercise, the inclines may be of use; for commuting – when the destination is more important than the trip- the inclines are nearly a deal-breaker.
There is another mountain-related problem; tunnels. I have ridden through Busan’s city streets and felt safe, but the tunnels are very different in this regard. I am uncertain if bikes are permitted in the tunnels.
I guess I don’t know enough about where a Bike Share program ends and a bike rental business begins. Eulsookdo and other tourist locations in Busan have bike rentals that allow relatively cheap local travel but the rental operators don’t communicate and share bikes with each other. One could not rent a bike at point A and leave it with someone at point B, for instance.
My bike is old and I need to replace it soon. I am not sure if it will last through the summer. If a bike share program started, I would patronize it but I am not sure if enough others would as well.