On your bike: the best and the worst of city cycle schemes

This article in The Guardian comes very well timed at the end of the VeloCittá project.

This year is the 10th ­anniversary of the world’s first large-scale bike-sharing scheme, the Velib in Paris, whose immediate success – 20 million users in its first year – prompted cities across the world to wheel out their own copies. A decade later there are 1,000 of these schemes, from Milton Keynes to the medina in Marrakech, with 17 across the UK and more opening this year.

Some have back-pedalled: Seattle will shut its Pronto scheme in March, a victim of hills, rain, budget cuts and the city’s mandatory helmet law, while in Spain cash-strapped local authorities have put the brakes on half of the country’s 130 schemes.

Step aside London. It was once the highest-priced bike-sharing scheme in the world (by annual membership). But that dubious honour now goes to New York which, despite sponsorship from Citibank (and the fact it calls itself “an affordable way to get around town”) charges $163 (£131) for annual membership, and $12 (£9.60) for a day pass. New York’s scheme is, however, entirely privately funded, and indicates what London might have to charge without its public subsidy.

But it is to the Netherlands, a country where 27% of all trips are already made by bike (it’s 1% in the US), that we must look for the most nationally integrated bike-sharing scheme.  OV-fiets runs out of almost all important train stations (with 300 locations across the country), with commuters able to pick up a bike from automatic dispensers or from a staffed rental location. The idea is that while the Dutch use their bikes to cycle to a station, when they reach their destination they can hop on another for the last half-mile or so. The system is integrated into the national OV-chipkaart, which is much like the Oyster card in London.

Read on here.