How Does Bikesharing Work?

by Alexandra Pacurar

Bikesharing systems are offered through private companies such as Lime, Mobike, JUMP Bikes (hi there, Uber) or Ofo. The offering really depends on where you are in the world. Municipalities (New York City, Barcelona etc.) and universities (University of Worcester in the U.K., University of Colorado etc.) also offer bikesharing systems. Often, these are also the result of public-private partnerships. Depending on where you’re located, you’ll likely find the following options:

  • Docked (automated docking stations) – This type of system stores bicycles in “docks” or designated locked bike racks that release by computer control. To unlock the bike, the user needs to enter payment information, usually through an app, or just swipe a card. Once the ride is over, the bike needs to be parked in any docking station within the same system.
  • Dockless – With a dockless bike-sharing system, the locking mechanism is found on the bike itself, allowing the user to locate and unlock a bike by using the smartphone. At the end of the trip, the rider can simply leave it at the destination.

Why you should consider bikesharing 

Here are some of the reasons bike sharing is a smart and cool transportation option:

  • It’s low-cost: Usually, biking is more affordable than other local transportation options. For example, in Barcelona, the city-owned and operated bike system requires registering for a card and opting for one of the two annual fares. For 50 euros per year, the first 30 minutes on a regular bike (the system also offers electric bikes) are free. This is a great way to get around the city, especially in addition to the metro and bus systems, as bike stations are near public transport stations. Convenient, right?
  • It’s healthy: Biking is a simple way to add exercise to your day and get your body moving. In the end, it’s not just about physical health, but also a better state of mind. Researchers have found that cycling offers amazing neurological benefits by stimulating the formation of new brain cells and can even triple the production of neurons. Also, if you’re too lazy to pedal, you always have the option of choosing an electric bike. Thank God it’s 2019, right?
  • It’s eco-friendly: Pedaling cuts down on poor air quality in densely populated areas. The climate crisis is a significant topic to focus on now. People have been paying more attention to their carbon footprint, the impact of their everyday life on the well-being of our planet. This has led to a change in their eating and shopping habits, as well as the way they get around. Biking fits perfectly in this more thoughtful way of life. Not to mention it saves you the trouble of looking/paying for a parking space for your car and its maintenance costs are significantly lower. Oh, and you can always buy a used bike that is still very much usable rather than buy a new one and score an extra eco-friendliness point.

City life in 2019 is busier and more suffocating than a decade ago. We need to adapt and adopt more efficient and sustainable mobility solutions as soon as these are available. Often times, these simplify and improve our lives for the short- and long-term. Adhering to a more eco-friendly lifestyle and using a bikesharing system is a simple way to do this. Also, the city looks so much better while on a bike. You will notice a lot of stuff you’ve missed while sitting in a car so maybe it’s time for this new perspective.