The News: Bike-sharing programs across the U.S. could be used with a universal bike-sharing card soon. Wouldn’t that be sweet?! Well, there’s already momentum in that direction, with bike-sharing companies that allow their users to use their programs anywhere they exist. For example, nextbike, which has a new bike-sharing program in Wroclaw that I’m loving (despite a couple flaws), has programs in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Latvia that I can use.
But here’s more on this and similar possibilities from The Bike-Sharing Blog:
One of the hallmarks of the fourth generation of bike-sharing will be the single transportation card. A pass that is operative on the bus, metro, tram, light rail, taxis, car-sharing and car parking. We wrote about the experiment with the Mobilitätskarte (Mobility Card) of Berlin in our Bike-sharing World — June 2011 as a step in this direction. Another hallmark will be an inter-operative card between bike-sharing systems. A good example is Boulder B-cycle members can use Denver B-cycle and vice versa. In Germany, a registration, by card or telephone, with Metropolradruhr or nextbike will work in all their locations. Bicincittà is in the process of making all their bikes available to all their card holders.
Last week, the bike-sharing service in Wuhan, China (currently the largest in the world with 5,000 more bikes than Hangzhou) announced an intent with the bike-sharing service in Haikou, China to give reciprocity to each other’s card holders. Wuhan is in central China on the Yangtze River and has harsh winters. Haikou is on a large island in the South China Sea with warm winters. According to reports by the Chinese Bicycle Association, the intent is to allow leisure and business travelers to enjoy bike riding in the tropical climate of this ocean city! What a complementary pair of services.
This conjures up whole new avenues for bike-sharing. The systems of Scandanavia, such Stockholm City Bikes, could have reciprocity with Barcelona’s Bicing with less harsh winters. The Polish system in Rzeszow, RowRes, could exchange with Batumivelo on the Black Sea. B-cyclein Madison, Wisconsin could let its University of Wisconsin members enjoy spring break with B-cycle in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in the USA.
Why this is important: Bicycling is the greenest, most-efficient common mode of transportation on the planet. It’s good for your health. It’s good for your emotions. It’s relaxing. It improves the atmosphere of a city. It’s cool. It’s cheap. It’s fun.
Also, bike-sharing makes bicycling even more convenient, an even more important part of our communities, and essentially becomes another public transportation option, but one slightly more flexible to our schedules and more individualistic, which some people prefer.
Opportunities for action: Check out the options in your area and see if there’s a bike-sharing program you can join. If not, see if you can connect with people in your community and in the bike-sharing community to get one. And, if you’ve got a local bike-sharing program, see if you can get them to partner up with programs in other cities to broaden their membership options.