Bike share programs are popular but often require subsidies.

Position:News & Numbers

Bike share programs are no longer a novelty having been established in approximately 80 U.S. cities, including smaller cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, and Fargo, North Dakota. And another 100 cities are studying, planning, or constructing their own bike share programs, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

To run a successful bike sharing program, the Pew article suggests tips such as balancing a desire to reach into new parts of cities with the need to supply enough bikes and stations in dense downtown areas to make service convenient and reliable. Also, cities should think of these programs as public transportation systems that cost money --they usually require some kind of outside funding.

"Starting a bike share program requires substantial capital, typically about $4,000 to $5,000 per bike," the article reports; this includes the costs of docking stations, kiosks, etc. And it's important to start out with enough bikes, as the systems work best when there enough stations and bikes to cover the ridership--both residential and tourist--in a given area. Once that goal is achieved, the program can be expanded to other areas.

Bike sharing isn't just for large cities with tourism and dense downtown areas, though. The article cites...

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