green bike traffic light

Let’s be honest. Some of us just aren’t bus people. The routes can meander far out of our way and the drivers aren’t always necessarily punctual. Sometimes it’s standing room only for a 45 minute drive, and the deal breaker for me? I have no control over the radio. Walking a few miles to work or class isn’t always feasible either, and we all know how those few miles a day driving a personal automobile can really rack up to contribute to the air pollution problem. So what’s an eco-conscious guy or girl to do? Biking is an excellent solution for the sustainable commuter. This emission free cardio is good for the environment AND your health. No bike? No problem. There are a number of bike-share programs all over the country–nay, the world!– that allow you to rent a bike or a small fee, comparable to the cost of a bus pass, and far less expensive than the cost of gas and maintenance of a car. Check it:

Hangzhou Public Bicycle and Vélib’
Bike sharing isn’t a local phenomenon; the two largest bike sharing programs in the world are Hangzhou Public Bicycle in China and Vélib’ in France; they boast 60,000 and 20,000 bicycles available for use, respectively. Both systems work similarly. First, you buy a membership or ticket (all electronic; no worrying about change for bus fare!). The length of these can vary, from a day to a year. Once you have your membership set up, you go to any of the public access stations, grab a bike, and ride off into the sunset. For the Hangzhou system, the first hour is free, and for the bike graphicParis system 30 minutes are gratis; longer rides incur additional trip fees ($.15-$1.50). Check your bike into the station closest to your destination, and you’re done.

DecoBike and Capital Bikeshare
DecoBike in Florida and New York and Capital Bikeshare in D.C. and Virginia work the same way as their international bikeshare brethren: membership, public stations, free initial interim, additional fees for longer trips. DecoBike allows you to “bike-hop” and potentially ride for free all day in short interval. Capital Bikeshare provides bikes with convenient front racks for holding your belongings as you pedal through the city.

Liquid is a bike rental service that differs from the above listed programs. Instead of being publicly run, Liquid is a service that connects individual bicycle renters and rentees. You can list your bike to rent to others or search for one to reserve, pick up, and rent. While bikes aren’t instantly available with this system, the service allows for greater personalization of the bike you ride (cuz hey, if you’re 6’3” you’re not to going to be able to ride just any bike) and accommodates longer periods of use. It’s free to rent or search; Liquid takes 12.5% from the fee each renter charges. The current average rental price within the system is $20 a day.

This is just a small sampling of what’s available; your area might have a bike share program too!

Photo credits: green light for bikes photo via   Bike program graphic via University of Texas Arlington