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American bike sharing systems more than doubled in 2011

2011 closes as the last year that Washington will probably lead the nation in bike sharing stations after having the most in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, New York City will launch a 600-station system, dwarfing DC's system.

Boston's Hubway. Photo by Luis Tamayo on Flickr.

Here are the current US bike sharing systems, ranked by number of stations. The list is more impressive than last year's version.

Nationwide, the total number of cities with bike sharing expanded from 8 to 18, and the total number of bikesharing stations more than doubled, from 251 to 559.

  1. Washington/Arlington, DC/VA: 140 stations
  2. Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN: 115 stations
  3. Miami Beach, FL: 70 stations
  4. Boston, MA: 61 stations
  5. Denver, CO: 52 stations*
  6. Madison, WI: 27 stations
  7. Broward County, FL: 20 stations
  8. San Antonio, TX: 20 stations
  9. Boulder, CO: 15 stations*
  10. Washington State University - Pullman, WA: 8 stations
  11. Chicago, IL: 7 stations
  12. Omaha, NE: 5 stations
  13. University of California - Irvine: 4 stations
  14. Des Moines, IA: 4 stations
  15. Tulsa, OK: 4 stations
  16. Louisville, KY: 3 stations
  17. Kailua, HI: 2 stations
  18. Spartanburg, SC: 2 stations
For the second straight year Washington's Capital Bikeshare was the largest system, but CaBi will begin to face more serious competition in 2012 and 2013 as a number of new cities begin to launch their own networks. Baltimore is expected to launch with 30 stations next year, Chicago may build up to 300, and most notably of all: New York is moving forward with a 600-station behemoth system.

Data for this list was compiled with the help of The Bike-Sharing Blog's excellent map of world bike sharing.

* Denver and Boulder are counted separately, but cross-honor memberships. Combined, the system has a total 67 stations.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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My uncle lives in Miami. He's by no means a transit geek or planner or even an urbanist. But when I mentioned bikeshare to him, he raved about how great the system was in Miami and how many people use it.

It's catching on.

How useful is a two-station sharing system?

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

Don't forget Tulsa Townies, the first modern bikesharing system in the US (it opened a few months before SmartBike DC). It has four stations, though they're all in a riverfront park.

by dan reed! on Dec 30, 2011 12:28 pm • linkreport

he raved about how great the system was in Miami and how many people use it.

Are you talking about Deco Bike? Because I used it just last week, and frankly, thought it sucked. Crappy old bikes with rusted chains and $24!!!!!!!! for a full day membership ($5 for one hour). That said, I still used it because biking around South Beach is pretty awesome.

by Falls Church on Dec 30, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

Bike share in NYC will certainly be interesting. But I don't think 600 stations is anywhere close to being enough for such densely populated area.

In DC, the reality is that the vast majority of Capital Bikeshare's stations and ridership is located in central Washington, which in turn has a small core population compared to the total population of DC and Arlington. But the potential population that would use bike sharing in NYC (starting off in Manhattan and Brooklyn) is huge. If we're having problems with dock-blocking and empty stations, I can only imagine the mess in NYC.

by Adam L on Dec 30, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

Adam, you're right. On a per capita basis, NYC is making about a third of the commitment DC did with CaBi. But I think 600 is just the starting point and they plan to expand from there pretty quickly.

by David C on Dec 30, 2011 1:16 pm • linkreport

That's Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN -- not "MD."

by Bojangles on Dec 30, 2011 1:20 pm • linkreport

>Don't forget Tulsa Townies

They often aren't listed because it's such a different system. Regardless, I added them.

by BeyondDC on Dec 30, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

>That's Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN -- not "MD."


by BeyondDC on Dec 30, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

I would say the use of a two station system is when you have a very crowded dense area (small college campus maybe) and then one specific place they want to go (strip of bars, off campus housing complex, satellite campus etc)

by Kyle W on Dec 30, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

I've always thought that a 2-station system could work at the Bethesda-Silver Spring metro stations. Taking the Capital Crescent Trail would be about as fast as the bus (and faster than metro), and would serve those who'd rather be biking.

by David C on Dec 30, 2011 2:09 pm • linkreport

I wouldn't call bikeshare expansion in other cities "competition" for DC because having more bikeshare systems in different cities only raises consumer awareness, which promotes daily use by visitors, and builds economies of scale for manufacturers.

by Ward 1 Guy on Dec 30, 2011 2:17 pm • linkreport

If there is one thing we learned from Smartbike, it's that you need critical mass -- a lot of stations -- for the system to be successful. I wonder how well the small systems will fare.

The NYC system would make sense if the 600 stations are clustered together enough so you serve a few areas well. This is what Mexico City does with its bikeshare program. Mexico City is a megatropolis, but the bikeshare system doesn't pretend to serve the whole city. Its 90 stations are packed close together in a central area.

by Ward 1 Guy on Dec 30, 2011 2:30 pm • linkreport

Ward1, I think it's just friendly competition, but I agree that it's good news when other systems come online - even if not Bixi style bikes. For one thing it keeps Eric Cantor from calling the system "bike racks in Georgetown".

I think NYC is limiting the stations to downtown Manhattan and close in areas of Brooklyn.

by David C on Dec 30, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

Another microsystem: this year Sacramento CA piloted a 2-station system (users can only return a bike to the station from which it had been checked out).  They are planning to switch to a new system with staffed stations located in parking lots/garages -- interesting to see whether it even finds (and goes on to solve) a last-mile problem for auto users.  It appears they are going for staffed stations due to theft and vandalism during the pilot (Buenos Aires has gone that route for the same reason) and the ease of having parking lot attendants multitask for bikeshare. 

by cabi addict on Dec 30, 2011 4:01 pm • linkreport

It should be noted that, while DC was tops at the end of the years, it wasn't top during the entire year. At one point towards the beginning of the season, Minneapolis had more stations than DC.

by Froggie on Dec 30, 2011 4:58 pm • linkreport

I've used the system in Miami, Decobike, and it works great. It's $15 a month for an unlimited-rides membership and they now have 90 stations and about 1,000 bikes out in the streets and you really can park your car or bypass cabs and use the bikeshare. the bikes are real comfortable cruiser style bikes and its pretty easy to find their stations.

by Chris L. on Dec 30, 2011 5:26 pm • linkreport

I've used the system in Miami, Decobike, and it works great. It's $15 a month for an unlimited-rides membership

Then, why in the world is it $24 for a full day membership purchased at the dock? Sounds like they're just trying to fleece tourists but that's going to backfire because it discourages tourists from using it as transportation. At that price point, it's more for hourly pleasure cruises. Also, I don't recall there being a map of close by stations at the dock. That's also necessary for tourists.

Also, the first bike I got, the seat adjuster was broken/rusted and I had to get a different bike.

by Falls Church on Dec 30, 2011 7:45 pm • linkreport

DecoBike is a fully private company and works on a different model than the other systems. It's not really meant to be transportation, for tourists it's meant more for recreation, cruising the beach, etc.

It costs more because you can ride the bike for however long you like and not get charged - the monthly memberships have the 30 minute limit before you're charged $4 per half-hour.

by MLD on Dec 30, 2011 9:16 pm • linkreport

I'm so glad to see this movement gaining traction in the U.S. Still, the U.S. has a long way to go. I currently live in Paris, where I use the Velib almost every day. The stations are ubiquitous, making cycling very convenient. In checking the Paris Velib website, I see that they now have over 1800 Velib stations in Paris! We need more stations in U.S. cities, as well as more cyclists on the road to help sensitive drivers to the fact that the roads are not just for motorized vehicles. Here in Paris I find that the drivers are much more respectful of cyclists than those I encountered in DC and in Arlington. I hope we can continue to make progress in the U.S.

by Kathy on Dec 31, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

Youre missing a whole bunch of micro-systems (mostly college campuses) but thats ok, they dont really count. I would however throw in Canada and Mexico onto the list as they make a good comparison point.

by JJJJJ on Dec 31, 2011 4:21 pm • linkreport

I've used DecoBike and CaBi extensively. Everything CaBi does right, DecoBike does wrong, starting with communication. It's hard to figure out, even for Miami Beach residents, that you need to establish in advance that you're a resident in order to take advantage of the reasonable fees offered only to those residents. Worse, if you're a tourist, you pay comically high fees to use a system of bikes that are inferior to CaBi in every way.

by D on Jan 1, 2012 3:26 am • linkreport

You need a LOT of Kiosk if you want your bikesharing system to be functional. If you have 2 - 5 its just a small public service from the pricipals not a system. System is like a net, with all researches from transit situation in the city.

by Tom on Jan 12, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

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