Citi bike was recently introduced in New York City, and the idea of a bike culture within a city became a more popular conversation, but some cities are better for biking than others, and USA Today has compiled a list.
Biking became popular as a mode of commuting after the Velib was introduced to Paris and city bikes then began spreading to other cities. They are the most popular and functional in cities that are less car-friendly.
However, in 2003, a bike expert, Paul DeMaio cited a public-use bike system in Amsterdam in 1968, though the program only lasted about three days. Copenhagen had a more successful program that was introduced in 1995 and operated for 17 years. It was shut down last year to get an upgrade.
A web site maintained by DeMaio and Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia, called Bike Sharing World Map, shows 553 bike sharing programs operating worldwide with an additional 193 in either the planning or construction stages.
The bike sharing programs all run in a similar manner. The bikes themselves are low value to discourage theft and they have electronic docking stations and tiered payment scales.
According to USA Today, which based their ranking mainly on numbers, looking at the number of bikes compared to the population, as well as affordability, popularity, functionality and convenience, as well as the city's friendliness, China is the world leader in bike sharing, with 20 of the top 25 largest bike sharing programs in the world, according to data collected by the Earth Policy Institute.
Paris launched their bike sharing program in 2007 and ranked second, according to the list by USA Today. The city has 1,751 bike stations holding 23,900 bikes. The bikes carry a cost of $38.52 per year and $2.26 per day, making their bike-sharing program one of the most affordable. It is still the largest bike-sharing program outside of China.
Barcelona launched a bike-sharing program in 2007 with 420 stations holding 6,000 bikes. At $61.93 per year, it runs a bit more expensive than Paris. The popularity of Barcelona's program inspired other cities throughout the country to begin bike-sharing programs of their own. Today, Spain has the most bike shares in the world, with 132. However, unlike most other cities, their bikes are only available to residents.
Another city with a popular bike share is Buenos Aires, which launched in 2010 with 28 stations holding 1,000 bikes at a very affordable $3.76 per month. It was the first South American city to host a bike-sharing program. An added benefit to the Buenos Aires program is that it's completely free to residents.
This article is copyrighted by Travelers Today, the travel news leader