Touchy feelyness aside, sharing bikes is becoming big business and it’s starting to shed some of the doom and gloom stereotypes. Counter to expectations, including my own, studies are showing that bikeshare cyclists are safer than “regular cyclists.” I assumed rental bikes would be treated like rental cars.
I should clarify that when I say that bike sharing is big business I’m referring to scope rather than profit model. Many sharing programs are run by non-profits or local governments. One example where the state blues foundation is helping fund bike sharing at a community college.
Despite growing proof of the success of bike sharing it takes some communities a while to get on board. After six years of planning Baltimore is ready to award a contract. First, it will run a month of tests, even though they will be using technology already installed many other places. I think Baltimore has control and commitment issues.
The biggest news, and biggest market, for sharing is China supporting bike sharing. It’s ironic that China spent a decade or so trying to get people off bikes in order to project a more developed image, is now doing everything they can to get people back on bikes. Apparently looking developed isn’t as important as the ability to breath.