A Primer on the new phenomena of Bike Sharing

Nov 15, 2009 by Lisa Newton


In these times of economic, political, and energy instability and change, a new eco-friendly form of transportation is starting to emerge—the policy and program, called Bike Sharing.

It’s starting to develop at, and under the auspices, of our college campuses. For example, at the University of California at Irvine aka “(UCI)” they’re testing out a brand new bike sharing program.  On Saturday, I covered this story after spending several hours at the UCI campus, while I was at the school for a "Mock Trial Tournament," and to look at the bike sharing station, which piqued my interest.

As pictured above, this academic year, UCI is testing out a system of 25 bikes–which will be located at four different locations around campus. Called Zotwheels, the system is an automated self-serve bike sharing system, which is only accessible via a membership card, at a cost of only $40 per year.

The intended goal of “renting” a bicycle is pretty simple.


Students can have 24/7/365 access to a bike to do their shopping, get groceries, go to class, or do just about anything they want to do, if they have no, or want an alternative transport mechanism.  After picking up a bike from the docking station, there’s a three hour time limit for that particular rental; however within the parameters of the program, and for one’s needs, that amount of time is more than reasonable to do what is, and should be normal and customary for student’s everyday activities.

The intended concept is to help make short jaunts–of under 3 miles–easy, efficient, affordable, and environmentally friendly:

In total, ZotWheels is expected to save between 20 and 40 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.  Studies have also shown that just 3 hours of bicycling a week can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by 50 percent.  Source:  Ecotrip

Below is a list of some of the bike sharing pilot programs in place at some of our colleges:

Mississippi State University – MSU Bike Fleet

University of California, Irvine – ZotWheels

University of California, Berkeley – Bike it, you’ll like it

University of California, Davis –Bike Barn

Michigan State University – MSU Bikes

Franklin and Marshall University – F&M Bike Program

University of Utah – U Bike Program

New York Institute of Technology – NYIT Bike Share


Although bike sharing isn’t new and it has had its ups and downs, it’s an idea whose time has come.  University campuses aren’t the only organizations looking at the idea of bike sharing.  Just two weeks ago, Ogilvy & Mather, one of the most prestigious and well known global advertising firms in the world, is starting to take notice of this trend as well. In New York City, they announced that they would be offering a bike share program for their employees. 

Starting on a small scale, and combined with the right security, bike sharing can, and will work. To be sure, it would be a helpful public transportation alternative. By Travelin’ Local–combined with our sunny Mediterranean Southern California climate–makes the idea of bike sharing an attractive mode of gettin’ around.

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7 Responses to “A Primer on the new phenomena of Bike Sharing”

  1. Davina says:

    What a great idea this is! And these bikes pictured look pretty nifty too.
    Davina´s last blog ..There’s An Artist In Our Midst My ComLuv Profile


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Davina, Isn’t it? I hope this becomes more common on all college campuses.


  2. David says:

    This makes so much sense at the right places–esp. college campuses and pedestrian type of cities, it’s almost stupid not to have Bike Sharing. In fact, I find that its time is perfect. Good story, coverage, and photos. I really had no idea that this was going on.


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @David, Until I visited UCI, I didn’t either. I can think of a few other places this might work besides college campuses, too. :)


  3. Debi says:

    This is useful to a project I’m working on. Thanks for sharin!

    Just stumbled on this…


    …and thought you might be interested. Enjoy your day!


  4. So this is how the Lone Ranger feels « BikingInLA says:

    [...] Damien Newton calls for a bike network to support the new Gold Line extension. Travelin’ Local looks at bike sharing at UC Irvine. Santa Maria considers their own bike master plan. Minneapolis studies the causes of [...]

  5. BLoG kiTa says:

    Very nice topic you selected to write. Thanks!
    BLoG kiTa´s last blog ..Start Sharing NOT Selling My ComLuv Profile


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