What does Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Denver, Washington D.C., Boston and Minneapolis have in common?
One by one, they are implementing a bike-sharing system which have been popular in Europe for years. These cities will set up bikes along beaches, downtown areas, shop fronts and just about anywhere that's a destination for locals and tourists.
This is a form of inter-modal transportation in which people easily shift from one mode of transportation to another: walk to the garage, drive to the bike-share center, cycle to the restaurant downtown and take the bus to the other side of downtown.
This is only one simple example of how inter-modal transportation liberates auto owners, who venture forth from their garages, from the perennial questions of: "Where can I find a parking space/garage?" or "Anybody got any change or small bills? or "Does the restaurant have valet parking?"
So how does a community bike program work?
The bikes would be locked at bike racks along any heavily populated destinations. A bike rider signs up for a membership in advance, proposed at $45 a year. Riders who prefer not to have a membership would swipe a debit card and borrow the bike for any amount of time. There would be options to rent the bike for the week, the day, or even down to the hour.
When the rider is done, the bike would be dropped off and locked at another rack.
To prevent theft or loss, the bikes have computer chips embedded in them.
Some European cities have designed their bikes with unique wheels and frames so that the bikes cannot be taken apart and sold by uncivic minded individuals. But the computer chips that deter theft and loss have an additional advantage in allowing riders to check online to look up their mileage, the number of calories they burned, and how much gasoline they saved by riding a bicycle.Continued on the next page