Updated: Dec 24, 2019
A bicycle-sharing system, public bicycle system, or bike-share scheme, is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a short-term basis. Bicycle-sharing services allow people to borrow a bike from point "A" and return it at point "B." Bike-share systems offer affordable subscriptions that usually make the first 30 minutes of use free, encouraging use as transportation. That allows each bike to serve several users per day. Smartphone mapping apps show nearby stations with available bikes and open docks.
Bike-sharing began in Europe in 1965. A viable format emerged in the mid-2000s thanks to the introduction of information technology. The central concept of this system is to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorized public transport or private vehicles, thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution. Bicycle-sharing systems have also been cited as a way to solve the "last mile" problem and connect users to public transit networks.
One of the reasons I use Divvy in Chicago is that it spares me from being concerned about theft, vandalism, parking, storage, and maintenance that owning a bike entails. It helps me save money: I pay a yearly $99 fee, which allows me unlimited use of bikes, as long as I keep each ride under 30 minutes*. If I had to rely on public transportation, I’d be paying at least $100 a month for a Ventra monthly pass. Bicycle-sharing is green since it doesn’t require fuel. It also helps me exercise. And last, but not least, it allows me to discover and admire the beautifully varied neighborhoods of Chicago.
*In early 2018, Divvy increased ride time for members from 30 to 45 minutes.