Bike Chicago with B-CYCLE: New Bike Sharing Program Makes Getting Around Chicago Easier but is it Starting Too Small?

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ON  A ROLL.

Rack One Up for the Windy City. Chicago has become the second U.S. city to launch the B-cycle bike-sharing program following Denver, Colorado’s successful Earth Day 2010 installation. Kicking off this week, the national bicycle sharing company B-cycle and its local business partner, Bike and Roll have installed six different downtown Chicago locations for people to “borrow”  a bike for an hour or two or the day for a fee.

WHAT IS B-CYCLE?

B-cycle works in a similar way for bicycles as the I-GO and Zip Car programs work for cars in Chicago.  The idea behind B-cycle is people want to bike, but not everyone has or wants their own bike.  With B-cycle, you can go to a convenient location, pick up a bike and when you are finished return the bike to any of the drop-off locations. 

WHO.

Bike sharing is ideal for the commuter whose transit stop is a couple of miles from the office, the urbanite who is running errands, the tourist out sightseeing and families or singles from the suburbs who don’t want to lug their own bikes on the Metra.

THE SKINNY.

In order to share (rent) a bike you must become a B-cycle member.  Memberships range from a 24-hour membership for $5.00 plus hourly rental fees to an annual membership for $65.00 for adults, with special discounts for students and seniors. 

To check out bikes, residents and tourists can register on the B-cycle website or at any of the B-station locations. Hourly rental fees in Chicago are $10.00 for the first hour. Once you get to a B-station, the instructions on how to select your bike are clear and easy to follow.

DISCOUNTS: For student discounts, students must have an email ending in .edu.  Then they can apply for a discounted membership by typing “student30day” (or 60 or 90 day)  in the promotion code box on the website.  Seniors must email or call Chicago B-cycle at info@chicagobikesharing.com or 773 672 2000.

LOCATIONS.

Currently there are six locations where riders can pick up a bike.

PICK UP LOCATIONS:  McCormick Place, the Museum Campus, Buckingham Fountain, the Chicago Park District Administrative  Offices (541 N. Fairbanks Ct.), Daley Plaza and the John Hancock Center.
DROP OFF LOCATIONS: Riders will be able to drop off the bicycles at any of these locations plus Navy Pier, North Avenue Beach, Millennium Park and any of the Bike & Roll rental stations.

THE BIKES.

Because the bikes will be used by people of all ages, sizes and abilities, B-cycle offers a cruiser-style bike that is comfortable and easy to ride. 

THE FUTURE FOR BIKE SHARING IN CHICAGO.

Is Chicago starting out too small?  Currently, there only 100 bikes and six pick-up locations,

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hardly enough to make an impact on Mayor Daley’s  quest to make Chicago “the friendliest biking city in the U.S.”   In comparison, Paris, France, who Daley has held up as the gold standard for biking cities launched their bike sharing program, Velib, in 2007 with more that 10,600 bikes available at 750 stations around the city.  They had 10 million rentals in the first 100 days.  By the end of its first year, the program had expanded to 20,000 bicycles at about 1,500 bike stations.  Another potential problem with the Chicago Plan is that it is seasonal.  The bike stations will be shutdown from October 31, 2010 through March 31, 2011. 

ABOUT B-CYCLE.

B-cycle is a partnership between Humana Inc., Trek Bicycle Corporation and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The founding partners share a belief that bicycles should be a vehicle for positive health and environmental change and an important part of a community’s transportation ecosystem.

ABOUT BIKE AND ROLL.

Chicago B-cycle is owned and operated by Bike and Roll Chicago. Bike and Roll Chicago was founded in 1993 and operates ten lakefront bicycle rental and tour locations in the city. The company is managing partner of Bike and Roll, a national network of bike rental and tour companies with additional locations in Chicago, Miami Beach, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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