Q:

Which U.S. Cities Have the Best Bike Sharing Programs?

I just used Paris’s Vélib bikeshare and thought it was awesome. Do any U.S. cities have programs like that?

Commuters on rented bikes in London. Via Shutterstock     Photo: Bikeworldtravel

A:Get ready for a numerically dense answer.

Launched in 2007, the Vélib is indeed awesome. With more than 20,000 bikes and 1,800 stations, the Paris bike-share system is now the second largest in the world. (The first: China’s Hangzhou public bike program, with 60,000 bikes and 2,177 stations.) Vélib’s success—the Bike-Sharing Blog estimates 110,000 Vélib trips are taken per day—is largely credited for prompting other cities around the world to begin similar programs, and about 25 of those 450 cities are in the United States.

If we’re talking size, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare is the largest program in the country, with more than 1,500 bikes and 165 stations. But New York will soon eclipse D.C. when the Big Apple launches its Citi Bike system. It was slated to open by July 31, with 10,000 bikes and 600 stations up and running by next summer, but the launch was delayed due to mysterious “software issues.” The official start date has yet to be announced.

Other large U.S. bike sharing operations considered successful include Boston’s Hubway, Minneapolis’s Nice Ride, and Denver’s B-cycle. (What makes a system successful? David Jolly tried to answer that question for the New York Times.) Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Anaheim, California, just began bike sharing programs in July, while Portland, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City all have plans to roll out similar systems within the next few years.

With so many U.S. cities beginning to adopt bike sharing systems, the pioneers of the modern cycling-as-public-transport movement deserve some kudos. Merci, Vélib.

Have you used a U.S. bike-share system? Let us know what you thought in the comments below. 

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