I travel regularly to scientific conferences for work and often contemplate whether I should stay farther away from the convention center to save UCS some cash. While places like New York and San Francisco have great public transportation, though, other metropolitan areas make commuting without a car considerably more time consuming.
But thanks to new bike share programs popping up in cities around the country, that decision is becoming easier and easier, as I found out this week in the Twin Cities (home of my alma mater) where I spoke at the Geological Society of America meeting.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have Nice Ride MN, a great program that the cities introduced in 2010. Users pay a small fee—$5/day, $30/month, or $60/year—for a subscription. Then you pick up a bicycle from a dock in one part of the city and return it to a dock in another.
As long as your trip is under 30 minutes, you pay nothing extra, and you can ride as many times as you like. In Minneapolis, there was a dock a block away from my hotel and a dock at the entrance to the convention center, which made my two-mile commute as quick as a wink.
Bike sharing is exploding across the globe. Notable programs in the United States already exist in Denver, Miami, and Washington, DC and are coming soon to other cities. (Here’s a cool map of those that are deployed and proposed in North America). You can also find them abroad from Paris to London, Montreal to Melbourne, Mumbai to Hangzhou.
I’m a member in Washington and have been stopped dozens of times while on a Capital Bikeshare bike by curious D.C. residents and tourists. With our traffic now ranked worst in the nation, I can understand the appeal. Biking is certainly the fastest way to get around my city.
So when I pack my bags for the next trip, I’m more and more likely to pack my bike helmet.