Bike share options — and what to do with them

iStock_000013900722_Full

You might take your city’s bike share for granted, but there was a time when biking was reserved for those who owned their own set of wheels. That was before 1965, the first year that a major city piloted a bike-sharing program. It was in Amsterdam, where a group of eco-conscious citizens painted a fleet of donated bikes white and spread them throughout the city, unlocked, to allow anyone to borrow them. The program was, essentially, an epic fail. Having overestimated their fellow cyclists, the program’s founders soon learned that unlocked bikes went like hotcakes in Amsterdam, and White Bikes (as it was called) disappeared as quickly as it came.

But over the next few decades, other cities and universities around Europe refined the bike-share system. First they created coin-operated bikes, then docking stations that accepted swipe cards, finally leading to today’s modern systems, which accept credit cards. You probably have a bike-share station near your apartment, but have you ever used it? Here are five reasons you should start this summer.

  1. Because it makes for a good Insta post. Have you ever looked at a photo of your friend cruising down the bike path, sun at her back and wind in her hair, and felt major FOMO? You can be that friend if you join your city’s bike share. Most offer annual memberships that include free short rides (typically under 30 minutes), but even non-members are welcome to rent at hourly or daily rates.
  2. Because you’re decreasing your carbon footprint. If you choose sustainably raised food and patronize eco-conscious businesses, shouldn’t the way you get around the city be environmentally friendly, too? Show you’re all in by skipping the drive and even staying off of public transit, and instead hopping aboard a bike.
  3. Because you hate spin class. People pay hundreds of dollars to take part in “functional fitness” classes, but there’s no better way to make your fitness functional than to run your errands on a bike. Fabricated “functional fitness” in a gym isn’t as effective as actually using your strength and reflexes to get stuff done. Plus, you’ll be able to cross spin class off your to-do list for the day.
  4. Because you can commute to work. If you’re sick of sitting in rush hour traffic or getting crammed into a train car with a hundred other 9-to-5-ers, embrace the open road on a bike instead. Commuting to work via shared cycle, either in the bike lanes or on a bike path, means you’ll bypass the traffic and get a workout out the same time. Win-win.
  5. Because you’ll save money. Oil changes. New tires. Your car is basically a money pit. Know what’s not a money pit? A bike that you don’t even own. Leaving your car parked and zooming downtown on a bike saves you money in countless ways, from gas to parking fees. The nominal cost of renting a bike is nothing compared to the boost in resale value from a car with fewer miles on it.

The Bike-Share Boom [CityLab]

Bike Share System Tips [Walk Score]

Top 40 Reasons Why You Should Ride a Bike (And Change Your Life) [Ice Bike]