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Saturday, October 6, 2012

This Bikesharing Program Lets You Lock Your Bike Anywhere [FastCompany]


Bike sharing systems have traditionally been a point-to-point system: You can only drop your bike off at specific locations. ViaCycle uses a phone-controlled lock, so that you can leave it anywhere.

If you live in certain parts of the world, like France, Spain, China, Italy, or Germany, you already are familiar with the joys of having an extensive bike-sharing system readily available. North America is slowly catching on, with cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York City gradually rolling out bike-share systems. The problem is that it can be expensive to set up large bike-sharing operation--the popular station-based kiosk infrastructures used by many cities aren’t cheap.
ViaCycle, a Y Combinator-backed bikesharing startup, has a potential solution: high-tech bikes that be locked, unlocked, and located with a smartphone. A system on the back of ViaCycle bikes, including a battery pack, solar panel, chain lock, and GPS system, ensures that users don’t need to lock their bikes at designated docking stations--instead, they can use the ViaCycle app (or send a text with the bike number and membership pin) to unlock and lock the bikes at any available bike rack. The bike still need to be returned to designated spots at the end of the ride.
Payment is straightfoward: After a yearly membership fee of $60 to $80, all rides under half an hour are free. Anything over half an hour has an hourly fee of $3 to $5.
The ViaCycle bike system is currently being tested on two college campuses--Georgia Tech and George Mason University. Next up: Google’s main campus and the Hub, a San Francisco coworking space. At the universities and Google, bikes can be dropped off at any designated location when riders are finished with them. At the Hub, they can only be left at a garage across the street. That will change, though, as ViaCycle expands. Ideally, users should be able to choose from multiple drop-off points across the city where they can leave their bikes at the end of each ride.
ViaCycle isn’t too concerned about theft. "Major bike sharing programs in North America haven’t had too many problems, says ViaCycle CEO Kyle Azevedo. Besides, he says, "it’s hard to tamper with the GPS system. So even if a bike goes missing, it won’t be hard to track it.
The system is, according to Azevedo, "like a Zipcar for bikes." If that sounds familiar, it’s because we recently wrote about Scoot Networks, the so-called "Zipcar of electric scooters." There is certainly room for both of these services, especially in cities that are lacking in quality public transportation. There’s a reason (besides the welcoming local government) that so many transportation sharing startups choose to pilot their programs in San Francisco.

Friday, October 5, 2012

There IS a Bicycle Economy, Two Cities Find [Treehugger]

Portland, Oregon and New York City, two very different cities, are finding something similar about cyclists and pedestrians - they tend to spend a bit more money in local economies.
Transportation Alternatives has been promoting the 'bicycle economy' in New York's East Village, finding that:
“Streets that promote bicycling and walking mean more business for local shops and restaurants,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives (TA). “When it comes to the impact bike lanes have on local businesses, it’s a case of ‘if you build it, they will come."
In the East Village, putting in new bikes lanes has lead to an increase in cycling, with nearly a quarter of residents reporting biking for their transportation needs. Altogether, 95% of retail dollars in the area that Transportation Alternatives studied were spent by cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport users.
That's perhaps not a completely surprising find, as in the dense East Village, most people are cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport users, rather than car drivers. Yet it is important to counteract that ingrained perception that car-based business is 'better'. Transportation Alternatives found that of the four different mobility groups, cyclists and peds spent the most (when looking at weekly spending).

Bikeshare Stations Don't Have to Be Clunky [Atlantic]

These days, it isn’t unusual to see bike-sharing stations in major cities around the globe. Inspired by the growing demand for these programs, Rafael Schmidt of the Swiss firm RAFAA has envisioned a sleek bike and various docking systems that blend into the urban mold.
To save space and streamline the process, Schmidt has proposed new docking systems that either do away with clunky racks or raise stored bikes off the ground. The bikes themselves would be equipped with accelerated GPS and W-Lan tracking systems that respond to immediate questions of location and user status. The system would provide a texting service that announces when a bike is free and would enable users to reserve an open bike at least 30 minutes in advance.
[keep reading at Atlantic]

Helmet Sensor 'Calls Your Loved Ones' in a Bike Crash [gearjunkie]


It looks like a tiny yellow pill. But a to-be-released sensor from ICEdot, a Tulsa, OK., company, can detect an impact and communicate with a smartphone to alert a loved one in the event of a crash.
When it comes to market next year you’ll be able to stick the yellow sensor dot to your bike or ski helmet. Using technology that detects sudden motion, the sensor can communicate with a smartphone to “send critical data to an app, which sounds an alarm and initiates an emergency countdown.”
bike helmet.jpg

Mock-up of ICEdot sensor on bike helmet
Basically, if the sensor detects sudden motion and impact it assumes you crashed. It then sends a wireless signal (Bluetooth LE) to your phone, which auto-starts a countdown before alerting loved ones or other emergency contacts about the situation with a text message.
Your GPS coordinates will be automatically sent. This lets your contacts alert emergency services if needed.
If the fall is not critical, the crash victim can simply shut down the countdown clock on their phone and cancel the process.

BodyFloat™

  • SWEET SPOT  BodyFloat™ travels vertically within an adjustable and friction free ‘sweet spot’ that isolates the rider from vibration and road shock, virtually eliminating terrain features felt on a standard seat post.
  • COMFORT & PERFORMANCE The BodyFloat™ improves rider comfort on any bike while maximizing pedal-stroke efficiency and energy conservation.
  • CONSISTENT GEOMETRY BodyFloat™ travels vertically and does not change the geometry of the bike, maintaining perfect seat alignment.

  • TRACTION CONTROL The BodyFloat™ increases traction and cornering performance.  It allows the bike to maintain consistent contact with the ground while riding, increasing  road feel and rider confidence.

  • INFINITE ADJUSTMENT  The BodyFloat™ can accommodate any rider of any weight by switching springs and setting your pre-load to find  your perfect sweet spot.
[BodyFloat™]

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beacon

STORY

The Beacon was inspired by the countless lights we've had stolen over the years. Bikes locked upon bikes outside the bar, all stripped of their blinkers by the end of the night. Sad, dark rides home. 
Each light has two LEDs and attaches to your handlebar or seat post using a slender zip tie. Strap them on once and forget about them. When your Beacon finally dies after over 150 hours of flashing, snip it off and pick up a Beacon Replacement Battery Pack complete with four CR2032 batteries and six coloured zip ties. 
The Beacon project was funded on Kickstarter and the lights are made in Toronto, Canada. 
No more stolen lights = No more sad nights

RydeSafe Reflective Bike Decals | Postcard From Portland, OR | 08.10.2012


RydeSafe Reflective Bike Decals | Postcard From Portland, OR | 08.10.2012 from Tonky Designs on Vimeo.

Torch - Light the Night

Torch is the result of over a year of research and development by industrial designer turned entrepreneur, Nathan Wills. After months of long cross town commutes in LA, both by car and bike he was inspired to launch the brand with a product designed to make bike riders more visible to motorists. 

After a successful campaign on Kickstarter, Torch has raised the funding necessary to begin production of the T1 in the coming months. Currently Torch is only available on this site, however will be available for sale in retail stores early next year. Torch will follow the T1 with several more bicycle helmet designs as well as a line of backpacks and messenger bags with integrated lights.You can follow Torch and see some of the early beginnings at facebook.com/torchapparel

[Torch]

I'd Rather Ride In Springfield (totally agree with premise of movie)

Trailer for upcoming (October 2012) documentary film I'd Rather Ride In Springfield. Examines the traffic conditions for bicyclists in Springfield, Missouri -- named a bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Makes specific comparisons with Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Argues that levels of participation (mode share) in transportation bicycling have more to do with culture than bicycle-specific infrastructure. Original music by Derek Clegg:freemusicarchive.org/music/Derek_Clegg/


I'd Rather Ride In Springfield -- Trailer from acline on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Put My Bike On The Bus

Touring market racks up mileage at retail [Bicycle Retailer]


It was after completing a 2,300-mile bicycle tour from Oregon to Texas in 1980 that Wayne Borroughs began dreaming of opening up a bike shop to help perpetuate his love of bicycle travel. Borroughs worked at a shop in Fort Collins, Colorado, for seven years before opening up his own store, which he ran for another seven.  But neither experience truly scratched his itch for touring bikes.
“If I brought in just a dozen pairs of panniers and some good racks, and sold through them all by the end of the year, then I was doing well,” recalled Borroughs. “Before the Internet it was very difficult to focus on touring in a local market.”
Of course, then the Internet came, and as it did Borroughs closed his bike shop in order to focus on a touring-specific online store. First he concentrated on eBay sales, but by the early 2000s he began shifting his focus to his consumer-direct website, TheTouringStore.com. Today Burroughs is one of three full-time employees, and with the exception of one flat year when the stock market tanked, growth has been steady year after year even as the online competition has heated up, and as bike shops nationwide have picked up their collective game in catering to a rising number of urban and utility cyclists—and by proxy, to true bicycle tourists.
 While it’s hard to parse touring bike and accessory sales from available numbers, let alone separate commuters from actual bicycle tourists, anecdotal evidence and reports from manufacturers all suggest a definite swell in the touring market over the past several seasons.
 “Bike touring used to be a niche activity, but now it’s branched into several areas,” said Michael Deme, publications director for the Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, Montana.
 “Six or seven years ago the chances of going into any bike shop in America and finding a set of panniers that were good enough for a two-week trip were not good. Now we see that changing. We’re seeing the standard road touring crew riding loaded-up bicycles extremely long distances, but then there’s the bikepacking crew doing the Great Divide, and there are also many bike companies are also doing bike tours.”
The ACA has experienced back-to-back banner years, noted Deme. “We’ve gone from being $30,000 in the red five years ago to netting positive numbers that keep going up,” he said.
In the past decade ACA membership has gone up 19 percent, its map sales are up 48 percent, and donations have tripled. The nonprofit now operates with a $4.1 million budget, and its network of mapped bike routes has grown to 42,000. Three of those routes go through Missoula, and more than 1,000 bike tourists stop into ACA headquarters every year.

Fall Bike Show this Saturday (Oct 6) at OSU Urban Arts Space


Students and bicycle lovers of all ages are invited to join us downtown at the Space for our Fall Bike Show: a unique experience to see and show off fun and crazy bikes. Bikes of all kinds are welcome, from fancy and sleek to homely and well-used... show off your own style! Register your bike for a chance to win best in show, as well as in special categories including best paint job, best theme bike, best classic bike, "best loved" bike, and best pieced-together bike.

Register your bike here:
http://uas.osu.edu/program/fall-bike-show-bike-osu


....Prizes for registered bikes - Free food and drink courtesy of Cafe Brioso and Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches - Free bike tune-ups - Raffle prizes....

OSU Student? Grab your bicycle and join Yay Bikes! on a complimentary tour from campus to downtown, and learn how easy it is to navigate the roads safely. Students can reserve a bike tour here: bit.ly/register2roll and enter the code URBANART1006

Don’t have a bike? No problem. The COTA bus is FREE with your BuckID, and we will be raffling off prizes throughout the show for all attendees.

Don't miss author Chris Cleave tomorrow at Thurber House



Chris Cleave, author of the #1 New York Timesbestseller, Little Bee, is back with another extraordinary novel reflecting his telltale gift of creating characters who linger in the reader’s heart and mind long after the last page has been turned. This time the setting is the world of Olympic speed cycling, but far more it is the story of two young women, very complex, competitive women who must decide whether their enduring and valuable friendship is worth sacrificing for winning. Chris Cleave lives in England.

Tickets are available here

The terrible tyranny of two-wheel tribal wear [BikingInLA]


One day last winter, I found myself riding Downtown to attend an early morning press conference.
And something I’ve learned in recent years is that the press likes to talk to people who look like their preconceived notions of a cyclist.
It doesn’t matter if the guy next to you is the head of a bicycling organization, a professional cyclist or someone who’s been riding for decades. If he or she is dressed in street clothes and you’re in spandex, you can expect the camera in your face.
Since there were things I wanted to say on the day’s subject, I put on my best road gear and set out on a rush hour ride to City Hall.
On the way, though, I noticed an interesting thing.
Despite the chilly early hour, there were a lot of other riders on the road.
Some, like me, were dressed in spandex. Many of whom nodded in my direction as they passed, acknowledging me as one of their own.
Others were clad in jeans or business attire, apparently on their way to work or school. And not one of whom seemed to take any notice of me, as if we were members of two separate species.
More interesting, though, was what happened later that same evening as the situation was reversed.

Understanding Weight and Power With Cargo Bicycles [bicycleastronomy.org]


“Isn’t that thing heavy?” I’ve had a few people ask me that already. The Yuba Mundospecs out at 48 pounds, and that’s probably calculated with no cargo and few of the common accessories like running boards and a side-loader bag. Let alone that copper bell I added! Probably my daily running weight is about ~65 pounds. Certainly it’s far heavier than the 8-pound carbon fiber wonder Jim Hogan at GBC let me hold a while back. It was so light I almost threw the bloody thing through the roof of the store, just trying to pick it up. I expected it to have some weight. It appeared to almost need to be held down.
Does it matter how much your bike weighs? Certainly if you’re a professional athlete, or an uber-serious amateur, it can matter. That $11,ooo carbon fiber frame might shave a portion of a second off your time, and that might be enough. If you’re going to compete in a mega endurance race like the 3,000 mile Race Across America*, probably a big cargo bike isn’t your first choice as well. But for most people, should bicycle weight be a big concern? And should it shy people away from grocery shopping by bike?
I was a bit worried getting such a big, heavy bike as the Yuba Mundo. My specific worry was Washington Street. On the way to work, it’s all downhill, but on the way home, well, let’s just say I do wish it was reversed. It’s somehow not fair that I can get to my office in 3 minutes but it takes me 10 on the way home. I won’t show you a picture of Washington Street, because you would see how puny it is and therefore what a weakling I am. But it’s my hill, and I wondered before the Mundo arrived how it would do on that long gradual climb. Notice that I said how “it” would do. You know, because, it’s all about the bike. (Not my legs or cardiovascular strength.)

[Keep reading at bicycleastronomy.org]

Josef from Flying Pigeon LA demonstrates Bicycle Handlebar Vuvuzela Horn

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finding Fearless Changemakers



Ultra-Compact Chainless Bicycle, Simplified: The Bicymple [discovery.com]


With all of the varieties of bike design these days, there really aren’t that many that are really and truly different. Most of the designs seem to stick to the same tried and true variations on diamond-shaped frames and standard drivetrains, with most of the difference between them being the quality of the materials and machining used or the color schemes offered.
But a new bike concept takes a radical departure from the norm, and instead of the usual futuristic design, gives us something more akin to a velocipede than what you’d expect to see in a bike store.
The folks behind the bicymple, Scalyfish Designs, began with this thought:
“Is it possible to evolve from the established bicycle design while adhering to the basic principles of simplicity, functionality, style, and excitement?”
[Keep reading at discovery.com]

How To Trigger a Traffic Light on your Bike

Cleverhood


The ‘hood is built for the demanding requirements of the urban lifestyle.
That means strong, dependable zippers, smart features and heavy-duty water repelling. It has to have a look that’s distinctive without comprising to the elements. It’s a Cleverhood customer who takes the rain-or-shine approach to life.
The ‘hood is designed, crafted and manufactured in the Northeast US. Every model features sturdy, waterproof breathable membrane fabric, sometimes from overseas, and protective seam-sealing. It has a fitted hood with a large brim to keep faces dry, without blocking peripheral vision. Handy arm holes have snappy magnetic closures and elastic side cinches provide increased breathability. The chest pocket protects valuables with a water-resistant Uretek zipper that closes with authority.
Available for the active user. One size fits all. Various styles offered to suit tastes.

5 Cities Changing Gears [Momentum Mag]


5 Cities Changing Gears - lead
Photo by Jӧrg Bandell
Taking a break in Schusterstraße in the bicycle-friendly city of Freiburg, Germany. People often relax by cooling off in one of the many streams running through the city, diversions from the Dreisam River that flows through Freiburg

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Population: 1.8 million
Bikeways: 137 miles (220 kilometers) of separated priority bikeways with a plethora of regional trails
Transit Network: 118 miles (190 kilometers) over nine lines of surface and separated metro rail with extended regional rail capacity.
Copenhagen is the poster child of urban cycling. 37 percent of trips taken in the city are on a bike. The city clearly has developed a cycling culture, even in a cold and wet climate. The Danes are notable for treating cycling as an everyday activity, dressing for the destination and carrying their children on their cargo bikes.
The conceptual form of the city, known as the “green fingers,” reflects the form of a human hand where the city core is the palm and the splayed-out fingers are the connections to suburban development. The gaps between each finger allow for green wedges of park and “wilderness” that can be visited from every neighborhood. Cycle Super Highways and a network of enhanced bikeways will further connect the city and include priority signaling as well as a bounty of other amenities. The fastidious Danes do not rest on their laurels as cycling royalty. The next stage of development is to increase the mode share of cyclists to 50 percent for the entire city, including the suburbs. Neither do they tackle cycling issues in a vacuum. Planning departments learn from neighboring and worldwide cities to achieve their local goals.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bike Friday tikit STEM ISSUE


September 27, 2012
Dear Bike Friday tikit owners:
It is with much concern that I write to you today. We have found that your tikit could be dangerous to ride. I want to tell you in the strongest terms we recommend all Bike Friday tikit owners to stop riding their bicycles immediately, until we have fully determined which tikits are at risk.
We have learned that two tikit stems have broken. A stem break is a very serious issue. Should your stem break while you are riding it there is a high risk of losing control of your bike causing you to crash with serious injury or even death as a result.
In August, 2012, an owner of a Bike Friday tikit sustained injury when his front stem broke while riding. Earlier this month, in September, 2012, we learned of a second stem failure.
We received the first bike for inspection [the second is still unavailable to us] 10 days ago, and upon reviewing the results of that inspection we acknowledge the potential exists for front stems to crack, and ultimately break.
Because of that, we recommend you do not ride your tikit until we can conduct enough tests to isolate the problem, the extent of its potential for failure, and implement safeguards to make your tikit safe to ride again.
Please visit this link on our website to fill out a registration form so we can keep you updated as we work through this issue. We will  follow up this letter with information on how to inspect your tikit for potential problems.
We are very serious at Green Gear about this. Many of us are regular and extensive tikit users. I have ridden a tikit since the first weeks of production in spring 2007. I rode it to work daily and on tours — even doing several century rides on it until it was stolen last year. My wife and two of my daughters own and ride tikits regularly.
The tikit is an important transportation solution for my two daughters and neither owns an automobile, relying on their bike for most travel. I understand that this will also be true for many of you. I say this so you understand how deeply I apologize for the inconvenience this causes for you not to ride your tikit until we have come up with a safe solution for you.
At this time our engineers and designers have been working to replicate the problem so we can develop solutions. We have stems being tested around the clock. I promise we will share our findings as soon as we have enough information to draw conclusions and offer solutions. Until then, please do not ride your tikit and make sure you register your contact information with us.
This safety warning only affects Bike Friday 16-inch wheel tikits. We have suspended production and delivery of tikits. It does not affect any of our 20-inch Bike Fridays.
I appreciate your patience in this matter. We have nearly 4,000 Bike Friday tikits located around the world, and getting this important message to all tikit owners is our priority. I hope you can imagine the challenge for a company of 33 cycling enthusiasts here in Eugene.
Sincerely,
This is the tikit stem that failed that we have been able to inspect.

Bikes Aren’t Just Good For You, They’re Good For The Economy, Too [Fast Company]


Click to zoom.

By now, we all know that cycling is good for health, fitness, cutting road accidents, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing energy security (and so on, and on). But what about biking’s economic impact--its cyclonomics, if you will?
This graphic, from the League of American Bicyclists, highlights studies from across the country showing the positive benefits.
You can see, for example, that bike recreation and tourism contributes an estimated $924 million a year to Wisconsin, plus $409 million in health benefits. Or that biking generates $400 million for Iowa, according to the University of Northern Iowa, and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. Or that bike tourism brings in $60 million for North Carolina’s Outer Banks area.
The League put the map together to publicize a recent report by its policy directorDarren Flusche. Flusche says the most important pieces of evidence for bicycling’s economic impact come from business district studies, including ones for downtownMemphis and Long Beach, California. Research (PDF) covering Portland, Oregon, meanwhile, showed that bicyclists spent more over a month than either motorists or walkers.

Sometimes it’s Hard to be a Woman [Winnipeg Cyclechick]

“Bike Like a Man”.
Good or bad, it’s a mantra I use when I want to bike strong.
I recently discovered I may have taken this mantra a bit too far when I overheard a couple of spectators at last weekend’s race debating my gender. I was racing at the time and unable to clarify the situation, so merely had to weave around them through the course while they discussed the matter.
Specatator #1: “I was wondering about that one, I thought it was a man, but I think now maybe a woman.”
Spectator #2: “Yeah, look at the legs. Woman. I’m pretty sure.”
Spectator #1: “Yes, you’re right. But at first I thought man.”
Damn compression bras. Or maybe it was my height, broad shoulders, or refusal to ask for directions during the race. So what’s a girl to do to make sure she’s not the object of scorn (or confusion) when entering the ladies’ room? I refuse to wear pink when I ride, or have any pink bits on my bike whatsoever. And makeup just gets in your eyes when you sweat (trust me on this one).
I was at a loss until I came across the latest Assos catalogue from Switzerland. In the land where the men are men and the women wear white leather pants, there are clearly defined lines when it comes to gender.
In the pages of the catalogue, Assos demonstrates how its products are to be worn by the rougher sex:

Copenhagen shows bicycles can improve cities and their citizens [Winnipeg Free Press]


Submitted photo
Rush hour in Copenhagen. Nearly 40 per cent of the city's population ride their bikes to work every day.
Submitted photo Rush hour in Copenhagen. Nearly 40 per cent of the city's population ride their bikes to work every day.
2Home to inspiring modern architecture, set within a dense and vibrant urban context, the most significant impression any visitor has of the Scandinavian capital is an overwhelming presence of bicycles.
In Copenhagen, 37 per cent of the population ride their bikes to work every day. With a vast, integrated system of separated lanes and dedicated lights, rush-hour traffic can often be heavier for cyclists than motorists. The system is so safe only 15 per cent of Danes choose to wear a helmet.
During a recent architectural pilgrimage to the Nordic city, I was lucky enough to visit prominent Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl. Having written several influential books on the design of livable cities, he has been instrumental in establishing Copenhagen's bike culture. In our discussion, Gehl lamented the lack of cycling infrastructure in most Canadian cities and cited the significant social and economic benefits it can have. He referred to a study commissioned by the mayor of Copenhagen indicating that when taking all factors into account, every kilometre ridden on a bike saves Danish society 25 cents and every kilometre travelled by car costs them 16 cents.
In Winnipeg, the first steps toward implementation of an active transportation network have largely been focused on encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, but expanding on Gehl's business case for an urban cycling infrastructure might be a valuable strategy to galvanize government and public support for its continued development.
The most easily quantifiable economic impact of active transportation is realized through individual savings. Car ownership is the second-greatest expense in a typical Canadian household, costing on average $7,500 annually, per vehicle. When alternate transportation options are provided, costs such as fuel, parking and maintenance can be greatly reduced. If a household is able to eliminate one car, these savings can be substantial.

Torture Test: Bike Locks [MensJournal]


We attacked five heavy-duty bike locks with a variety of tools commonly used by thieves to see which lock is best for protecting your ride. The weapons of destruction we used included 24-inch bolt cutters (easy to conceal, since they need only leverage and a firm grip to cut), a 10-inch hacksaw fitted with a metal-cutting blade, and an 18V angle grinder (a loud, spark-shooting cordless tool used in metalworking). Most bike thieves use just one of these tools to steal your ride. We used all three. To see which locks kept up the best defense, click on the gallery below. Launch Gallery >>


Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/torture-test-bike-locks-20120925#ixzz283TY3rnM

To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets [NY Times]


Eric Hanson


ONE spectacular Sunday in Paris last month, I decided to skip museums and shopping to partake of something even more captivating for an environment reporter: Vélib, arguably the most successful bike-sharing program in the world. In their short lives, Europe’s bike-sharing systems have delivered myriad benefits, notably reducing traffic and its carbon emissions. A number of American cities — including New York, where a bike-sharing program is to open next year — want to replicate that success. 

So I bought a day pass online for about $2, entered my login information at one of the hundreds of docking stations that are scattered every few blocks around the city and selected one of Vélib’s nearly 20,000 stodgy gray bikes, with their basic gears, upright handlebars and practical baskets.
Then I did something extraordinary, something I’ve not done in a quarter-century of regular bike riding in the United States: I rode off without a helmet.

[Keep reading at NY Times]