In this post you will find some videos about bike sharing made by Elizabeth Press and Clarence Eckerson, Jr. for Street Films, who traveled to different cities to document some of the bike sharing systems that are flourishing everywhere. They have produced four short-films, showing the bike sharing systems of Hangzou, Paris, Washington D.C. and New York City.
The Biggest, Baddest Bike-Share in the World: Hangzhou China by Elizabeth Press on June 1, 2011
While the bicycle usage dropped sharply in Europe and the U.S.A. from 1950 to 1970, Chinese cities had a strong bicycle usage during the same period. However, since a couple of decades, the Chinese government has been favoring the adoption of the auto for the individual mobility. This development led some cities literally to the same bottleneck reached by Europe and the U.S.A. To counteract the traffic congestion and air pollution generated by the autos, the city of Hangzou launched a bike sharing program in 2008. While it started only with 2,800 bicycles, 30 fixed stations and 30 mobile stations, to date it is the second world’s largest bike sharing system of the world (after Wuhan, China), with 60.000 bicycles and more than 2.400 stations. As you can see in the video, the system is pretty successful and highly popular. The government has invested more than 39 millions (USD) in its implementation and is planing to have as much as 175.000 bicycles by 2020.
Vélib’ by Elizabeth Press on July 15, 2008
Vélib is the bike sharing system of Paris. It was launched in 2007 and it was the largest bike sharing system at that moment. The system had a rough start and many bicycles were stolen or willfully vandalized. They were found in shipping containers or in some countries of eastern Europe. However, the system managed to survive and today it has around 18.000 bicycles, distributed in 1.200 stations. It is the third largest system of the world and it has become another another form of public transportation in Paris, where the people use it to avoid some longer trips in the metro or the busy traffic of Paris. The system generated in its first year more than 25 million bicycle trips, 10% of which substituted car journeys. This is a remarkable effort, if you take into consideration the small amount of urban space available in a city like Paris.
D.C. Launches Bike-Sharing Program by Elizabeth Press on August 22, 2008
The Phenomenal Success of Capital Bikeshare by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on August 2, 2011
The first North American bike sharing system was installed in Washington D.C. in 2008. The system debuted with only 10 stations and 120 bicycles, a humble number for Washington D.C. This pilot program was run by the public administration and it was never expanded, due to difficulties related with the energy supply necessary for the stations. In 2010 a public-private partnership called Capital Bikeshare pushed the pilot program forward and turned it into a success history. The second stage of the system started in September with 400 bicycles and 49 stations. It was quickly expanded to more than 100 stations located in different districts of the city. The usage increased steadily and the demand for new stations became evident. It is remarkable that the bicycles have managed to attract some office workers, and it is now possible to see people wearing suits and riding bicycles in the city. As of 2012 the system had 288 and 2.800 bicycles. The city transportation authority is planning to expand further the system within the next years.
Citi Bike Debuts in New York City! by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on May 28, 2013
The most recent bike sharing system was installed in New York City. In this particular case the installation of the bicycle racks did not start without the opposition of some citizens that considered that the stations were an obstacle or were “wrongly placed”. Some of the complaints turned out to be justified and the New York transportation authority has relocated some stations. However, the controversy reached an absurd point and the New York daily news compared the bicycle movement to the “overreach of Al Qaeda in Irak” ((http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/bike-revolution-backlash-article-1.1339720)). According to the Atlantic Wire ((http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/05/village-hippies-brooklyn-yuppies-join-forces-against-bike-sharing/65107/)), such hostile attitude is the result of a long term dispute over the public space in lower Manhattan, where every square centimeter has to be negotiated. In spite of the opposition, the system started in 2013 year with 6,000 bikes and 330 stations. New York City is planning to have 10,000 bikes.