Bike Share is coming to Chicago!


Bike share comes to Chicago

So a bike share program is coming to the Windy City! Will you use B-cycle? I’m very excited about the concept of bike share – we saw a similar program in Barcelona last summer when we were there, and it was very popular.  I wonder if it will go over as well here in Chicago?

Bike share programs are intended for quick trips around town, if you want to use a bike for an entire day, you should probably rent a bike instead. The pricing model is set up to discourage long rentals. Both the Minneapolis and Denver programs are pricier overall than the Barcelona program though all three programs escalate to higher rates the longer you keep the bike.  Bicing, the name of the Barcelona bike share program, may even cancel your membership if you have the bike out for more than 2 hours – another method they use to discourage long trips and to insure they’ll have plenty of bike available. The program in DC (SmartBike DC) doesn’t appear to have escalating rates.

In order to share a bike, you need to be a member, or subscriber. In both Denver (B-Cycle) and Minneapolis (Nice Ride) a 1-day subscription is $5,  a 30-day subscription is $30, and a yearly subscription is $65.  Bicing, the Barcelona program, has slightly less expensive subscriptions fees. Smart Bike DC charges an annual fee of $40.  Chicago’s trial program will only run until October, and according to the article in RedEye the subscriptions fees will be $35 for 30 days, $45 for 60 days and $55 for 90 days with one-day subscriptions costing you $10.  Every time you pick up a bike, you are also charged “trip fees” – though I could find no mention of such fees for the Smart Bike DC service.

Trip Fees: Bicing/Denver/Chicago/NiceRide

0 -30 min  Free/Free/Free/Free

31-60 min  $.60/$1.10/$2.50/$/1.50

61-90 min  $.60/$3.30/$2.50/$3.00

91-120 min  $.60/$6.60/$2.50/$6.00

Additional 30 min  $3.60/$4.40/$2.50/$6.60

Note: In Barcelona you risk having your membership canceled if you take the bike for more than 2 hours. In DC your credit card is charged $550 if you keep the bike for 24 hours.

B-cycle will be run by the same company that runs the program in Denver – so while I’m basing the Chicago fees on the article in RedEye, the B-Cycle site lists the rates I show above for Denver and makes me wonder if a permanent program in Chicago would be priced similarly.  One more interesting note – SmartBike DC is run by Clear Channel and funded purely by advertising, like the Paris bike-share program (Velib). Velib, by the way, is run by another master of outdoor advertising, our friends JCDecaux of the Chicago bus shelters fame.

I love the idea, but wonder about the pricing model for the trial run. How will you use B-Cycle? Run some errands on your lunch break? Take a train downtown and use the bikes to get around? It’s an interesting thought.

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