By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Bike-sharing has been building momentum in the past few years, with programs in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and other cities providing quick temporary low-cost transportation to tourists and the young and car-less.

CitiBike New York

Citibikes stand ready in Greenwich Village, NYC.

This year, though, the concept has practically exploded in the U.S. The Earth Policy Institute reports that the U.S. now has 34 bike-sharing operations with more than 18,000 bikes, which represents a doubling of the fleet just this year.

The institute’s tally takes into account the San Francisco Bay Area bike share which opens this week.

Researcher Janet Larsen reports that the largest bike share is in New York City, which boasts 6,000 bikes in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The bikes are much in evidence and appear to be quite popular in the Big Apple, where we were nearly sideswiped by riders at least two or three times during a couple recent long walks through the city.

Major cities such as New York, where a car is simply a financial and mental burden, are perfectly suited to bike sharing. Dozens of stations make it possible to pick up a bike in Chelsea and drop it in the East Village, or take a spin through Central Park, or along the Hudson or…well, the possibilities are endless.

Earth Policy Institute reports that the NYC bikes are being used seven times a day, a “remarkably high” use rate, especially considering the program just opened.

There’s really no downside, as long as cities do what they can to protect the safety of riders with bike lanes. In many congested cities, biking is a faster, affordable and healthier way to get around.

And there’s no arguing that it can be a major low-carbon transportation solution.

See Larsen’s full report here.

Bike Sharing Largest Programs -- Earth Policy Institute

(Graphic: Earth Policy Institute)

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