Bike-Share Schemes Shift Into High Gear [National Geographic]

A man looks at shared bicycles in London.
A passerby surveys a Barclays Cycle Hire stand in London. Great Britain's capital city gave Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a specially commissioned tandem version of the bikes as a wedding gift.
Photograph by Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images
Josie Garthwaite
Published June 7, 2011
Hold onto your helmets, city dwellers. It’s the summer of bike sharing.
Around the world, cycle-hire operators are rolling out bicycles that were tucked away for the cold and rainy months. Hundreds of new bikes and docking stations will join existing fleets, while many more cities, from Kailua to Tel Aviv to the Big Apple are joining the bike-sharing wave for the first time.
The idea is simple: Charge a nominal fee to give people all the benefits of cycling without the hassle of bike ownership. It’s an old idea, but the concept of a bicycle fleet for shared use has undergone a very modern makeover in recent years.
Today’s bikes are often equipped with GPS devices for tracking. Free and coin-deposit systems have given way to solar-powered, computerized docking stations designed to deter theft and afford easy installation. Users often can reserve a bicycle with a few taps on a smart phone, unlock a bike with the swipe of a smart card that links up with the local metro, and even track calories burned while pedaling...