The bikeshare scheme goes by many names – the public bicycle system and bicycle-sharing system are two – but they are all straightforward. The word “bikeshare” itself already rids you of the urge to ask the question, “What is bikeshare?”
Simply put, this is a system that allows people to rent out a bike for a fee. These bikes are available at various points in any urban space, neatly arranged on what is aptly called a “dock.” Typically, programmed interfaces are found beside the dock to monitor, lock, and release the bikes per a user’s request. The user keys in his/her payment information (many interfaces go cashless) and a bike is made available for use. After the trip, the user returns the bike to the same dock, to which the bike is once again locked.
Biking has evolved.
The bike has been around for almost half a millennium, but only recently have the many variations of bike riding been conceptualized and taken advantage of. Is it because of the increasing demand for environmentally friendly alternatives to driving cars? Or that people opt for a more cost-effective commute since they now live more closely to their workplaces?
Either way, the bikeshare scheme has seen such an impressive spike in popularity that even transportation business giants like Uber have noticed. Nowadays, it is profit-driven by design, despite having been brought to life by a group of radical, anarchist thinkers. (It was the group Provo who first painted their bikes white and made them freely available for sharing in 1965 in Amsterdam.)
Despite bikeshare becoming a business, usually, it is the local government’s initiative to start a bikeshare system, where proposals for the procurement and operation of such a program are submitted to the appropriate overseeing body. While this process is undergone by almost all cities, each bikeshare system design is unique.
For instance, there are stark differences regarding who owns and who operates the bikeshare program. Many cities employ partnerships. If the government provides the equipment, it is possible that the managing body is a private entity. Conversely, a private company may fund the bikes and dock systems, which is then operated by a nonprofit setup.
Why do people involve themselves in it?
The main goal for bikeshare is to provide an equitable alternative to public transportation that also reduces traffic congestion and the carbon footprint brought about by consumption of fuel. The service may be free or priced, as long as it is accessible to the everyone. Some people, instead of just buying a personal bike, prefer bikeshare to avoid worrying about theft and ownership concerns, such as maintenance, storage, and parking.
The bikeshare system is more than just a business model – it started as a political statement and maybe even remains so today.
How do I make the most out of it?
Bikeshare etiquette is centered around care and consideration. Of course, when renting a bike (or anything, really) you are expected to keep it from potential sources of damage. Use it within a reasonable timespan, as other people might need it too.
Safety is the number-one priority. Know your bike, as well as your limitations as a rider. What can, or can’t, your bike do, and how does your body react to it? An acute understanding of how you control your bike is the foundation of good maneuvering.
Caution and foresight are your two guides on the road. Although you may have all the required safety gear, they won’t protect you forever. They reduce injury, but they can’t protect other regions of your body aside from your head, knees, and elbows. If you get side-swept by an irresponsibly-driven truck, your helmet can only do so much.
Develop a good sense of the road.
The only foolproof way you can avoid serious injury or even death, is by developing good road sense and simply swerving away from situations that can potentially end badly. Assume drivers (especially cab drivers) can’t spot you immediately, particularly during rush hour. Be wary of pedestrians because they are unpredictable and may sometimes freeze in the middle of the road. Cover your brakes so you can stop anytime.
Speaking of cars, always consider the possibility that a parked car has people inside because you can get doored. Before increasing your speed in a parking space, check the mirrors, lights, and angle of the cars to make sure they aren’t pulling out.
Always plan 3 steps ahead.
Always be three steps ahead. When riding in a highway, have a Plan B, C, and D for exiting. The worst situation to be in amid a busy road is to be stuck. Keep your eyes up, never turn blind, and check your lane.
The bikeshare scheme is a wonderful example of how technology can contribute to the improvement of cause-motivated businesses, especially ones that affect both the environment and the comfort of the people. While the concept and operation are due for improvements, it is a big step to achieving cost-effective and accessible short-distance transportation. But before participating as a consumer, it is crucial to understand how it is tethered to our society and how we can benefit from it.
Always remember that with the bikeshare system comes the prospect of riding with other vehicles, most larger than the bike you are on. Safety (for both yourself and the bike) is the only thing you should be looking out for. Exercise caution and foresight – ride with the mindset that nothing on the road is harmless.