Although it's less widespread than carsharing, bikesharing can really be handy, whether you're sharing a bike at work, on vacation, or just to ride around town.
Sharing Bikes at Work and on Vacation
Even if you drive your car or take public transit to work, sometimes it's useful to have a bike during the day. In places where parking is limited, it's often much easier to hop on a bike to get away for your lunch break, go to a local meeting, or run an errand. Bicycling is also a fun work break, and good exercise! Sometimes, coworkers or tenants in an office building share bicycles. (You can find a sample bikesharing agreement for tenants in a shared office building in Chapter 5.) Some employers also provide bikes for employees to share.
Another place where bikesharing can work well is shared vacation homes. It's much easier to keep bikes at the house than to rig up your bicycle rack each time you take a trip. The other owners of the vacation home probably feel the same way. Keeping a few bicycles at the vacation home will save everyone time and trouble.
Citywide Bikesharing Programs
Bikesharing can transform a city's transportation system when implemented on a large scale. It's a great option for cities where streets are congested, parking is limited, and many people don't have space in their apartments to keep a bicycle.
A famous example of bikesharing comes from Paris, where more than 10,000 bikes are placed at 750 bike docking stations for rental by members. Cyclists can pick up a bike on one side of town, ride it to the other side, and leave the bike in the nearest docking station. All rentals are automated and charged with the swipe of a card.
A few cities in the United States have toyed with instituting a citywide bikesharing program, including New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. Washington DC, has taken the lead. The bikesharing program there has about 120 bikes at ten docking stations.