Three years ago I noted on this blog that Paris, France had begun a new bike-sharing program. The idea is that people can "check out" bikes from public bike stands across the city -- and then ride them to other points in the city, where they can "drop off" the bike at another bikestand location. The idea is to encourage people to move around the city via bicycle instead of cars -- making their residents more fit, and cutting down on the need for automobiles for short trips across town that may be too far to walk).
Last week, on Earth Day, Denver became the first large city in the United States to launch a bike-sharing system -- called B-Cycle. The system is being funded with a 3 year, $450,000 sponsorship by Kaiser Permanente -- the state's largest nonprofit health plan. As the program develops, the plan is to have roughly 500 B-cycles and 45-50 B-Stations. Cost to users is $5 for a 24 hour pass, $20 for 7-days, $30 for 30 days, or $65 for annual memberships.
The bikes will have RFID chips inserted in them so computers can track mileage, calories burned, and carbon offsets -- while riders can monitor personal fitness and their contributions to the city's green efforts. Oh, and it just might help them find the bikes too just in case they don't make it back to the official drop points. You can even check online to see how many bikes are currently available at each B-Station.
City officials think B-Cycle will be a valuable part of their overall multi-modal transport system including buses and light rail.