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European Bike Sharing Programs Transform Cities

Paris' bike sharing program is well-known, but not alone - these programs are flourishing throughout Europe. The key to their proliferation lies in the new technology they utilize. This article highlights the 'third-generation' Barcelona program.
November 11, 2008, 2pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"The expanding program in Barcelona is typical of so-called third-generation programs, which rely heavily on technology. (In its first generation, bike-sharing involved scattering old bikes around the streets, where they could be used for free; second-generation programs accepted coins.)

Here in Barcelona, streets during rush hour are lined with commuters and errand-goers on the bright red bicycles of Bicing, the city's program, which began 18 months ago. Bicing offers 6,000 bicycles from 375 stands, which are scattered every few blocks; the bikes seem to be in constant motion."

"Car owners complain about the removal of parking spots to accommodate new bike lanes; the city has about 80 miles of lanes, after rapidly expanding the lanes in the past two years.

Officials in Lyon, one of the first cities to institute a large technology-driven bike program, estimate that bike-sharing has eliminated tons of pollutants since its inception in 2005. But more than that, they say, it has changed the face of the city."

'The critical mass of bikes on the road has pacified traffic,' said Gilles Vesco, vice mayor in charge of the program in Lyon. "Now, the street belongs to everybody and needs to be better shared. It has become a more convivial public space."

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Published on Sunday, November 9, 2008 in The New York Times
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