Bike share schemes shift into high gear

Sharing bikes
Around the world, cycle-hire operators are rolling out bicycles that were tucked away for the cold and rainy months. Hundreds of new bikes and docking stations will join existing fleets, while many more cities, from Kailua to Tel Aviv to the Big Apple are joining the bike-sharing wave for the first time.The idea is simple: Charge a nominal fee to give people all the benefits of cycling without the hassle of bike ownership. It’s an old idea, but the concept of a bicycle fleet for shared use has undergone a very modern makeover in recent years. Today’s bikes are often equipped with GPS devices for tracking. Free and coin-deposit systems have given way to solar-powered, computerized docking stations designed to deter theft and afford easy installation. Users often can reserve a bicycle with a few taps on a smart phone, unlock a bike with the swipe of a smart card that links up with the local metro, and even track calories burned while pedaling. The number of bike-sharing services in 10 European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, has leapt to about 400, up from “only a few” a decade ago.
Source: www.nationalgeographic.com, June 7, 2011

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