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Bike Sharing Approaching 250,000 Units

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PARIS, France – The launch of the French Velib in 2007 gave a big push to public bike rental systems around the world. The sophisticated IT based Velib represented a new generation in public bike systems. Velib was among the first to implement this on a broad scale with over 20,000 bikes.

Bike Sharing Approaching 250,000 Units
While Velib’ was the game-changer, the demand for these systems is now stretching far beyond Europe.

“It really took off after about 2007 when Velib’ was introduced”, says Susan Shaheen, who has written a chapter on bike sharing in the upcoming book ‘City Cycling’. “Today bike sharing is well and truly established as a global player in the world of transport. Gone are the days when it was something done by those ‘crazy’ Europeans.”

North America
“There are now more than 236,000 bicycles being shared on four continents,” says Susan Shaheen, who directs the Transportation Sustainability Research Center and has written extensively on bike sharing. In the upcoming book ‘City Cycling’ Shaheen plots the global rise in bike sharing.

“While Velib’ was the game-changer, the demand for these systems is now stretching far beyond Europe. The phenomenon has really taken off in North America. In just a few years, we have gone from 5 to 12 programs with another 20 to launch in 2012 and we are expecting another 34 that should launch between 2013 and 2014.”

Mexico, Brazil and Chile
But Shaheen’s research shows that North America is not alone in this bike share boom. In 2010, Mexico City launched EcoBici, which operates with 1,200 bicycles and 90 docking stations. In 2008, Brazil launched two bike sharing programs—UseBike in São Paulo and Samba in Rio de Janeiro. Even Chile started a public bike sharing program, which operates 180 bicycles and 18 stations.

And then of course there is Asia, which has now emerged as the world’s largest growing market for bike rental systems. “One of the largest and most famous public bike programs in Asia is the Public Bicycle system in Hangzhou, China. This system has over 60,000 bicycles and 2,400 bike stations,” says Shaheeen.

New cyclists
Statistics show that bike share systems can be a catalyst for change. Velib’s 2007 launch saw the number of people cycling go up by 70% within the first year. Similar results were seen in in Lyon, which documented a 44% increase in bicycle trips. Even more encouraging was the fact that 96% of Lyon’s public bike sharing members were new users who had not previously bicycled in the city center.

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