Chicago hails bike sharing trial a success

Seasonal program planned for the windy city

The US city of Chicago has hailed its recent bike sharing trial a success, and now has plans to launch a seasonal program from 1 April to 13 October, 2011.The city's winter weather will prevent it from running year round.

The scheme will be managed by B-cycle, who launched the country's first bicycle sharing scheme in Denver, Colorado in April.

"Chicago has always been an amazing biking city with the lakefront path as well as hundreds of miles of bike lanes on the streets," said B-cycle's Jeremy Rothschild. "B-cycle is the next step in the evolution to make Chicago an even better biking city as well as providing a new piece to the public transportation infrastructure to go along with buses, the L-subway system and Metra trains."

Chicago B-cycle is managed by Bike and Roll Chicago and launched with a demonstration of 100 bicycles at six B-stations around the city on 30 July.

There are two ways for customers to access the system: by buying a temporary pass from a B-station kiosk or by subscribing online for a 30, 60, or 90-day membership. A temporary pass costs $10 for the first hour and $5 for each additional half hour with a maximum daily charge of $40. Memberships are available for 30 days for $35, 60 days for $45 and 90 days for $55 where the first hour of every ride is included with the membership, each additional half hour is $2.50 with a maximum daily charge is $40.

"It is simple, you just check out a bike when you need one, and return it to the same or any other station when you're done," said Rothschild. "The bikes are very solidly built. They feature a low-step frame, an adjustable seat so people of almost any height can comfortably ride the bike, integrated front and rear lights, a front basket, 3-speed gears, integrated bell, integrated lock that coils to double as a water bottle holder, GPS tracking system, and reflective strips on the tires."

According to Rothschild, the bike-share was designed to make short trips fun, healthy and affordable. As a result, he expects a wide range of customers to take advantage of the system.

"Whether it's visitors to Chicago looking for a new way to see the city, students running errands, or professionals en route to a meeting, Chicago B-cycle is Chicago's new alternative mode of transportation."

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