Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bike City

Just noticed this over at Atrios' corner o' the web: Bicing, a great public bike sharing program in Barcelona (a beautiful city for pedaling, by the way).

"Bike stations are placed strategically throughout the city, and subway stops usually have signs pointing to them. Members have a card which they swipe, they're told which bike to grab, and off they go. It isn't necessary to return the bikes to where you got them; they can be dropped off at any bicing station. The first half hour is free, and after that there's a bit of a surcharge. When the program began they set the annual membership fee at some absurd low figure like 7 Euros, causing most of the city to sign up. That's now been increased to 24 Euros.

It's apparently become quite popular with seniors, who use them for leisurely afternoon bike rides."

Seems like a pretty excellent idea to me. Here in Madison, we do have the Red Bikes program, courtesy of Budget Bicycle. Though you get the deposit back in the end, the initial cost is a bit too steep for many folks to afford. There's also the Bikes At Work Program, though I have doubts about its effectiveness, seeing as how they only provide a whopping five bikes for use and qualifications for use are pretty narrow.

With all the recent hubbub over Mayor Dave's now defunct Street Car proposal (no comment), this sort of program seems like a cheap, clean and good way of adding to the city's public transit options. That and actually expanding the Metro's service areas and times to make it an option for people who work second or third shifts.

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