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What is Bike Share?

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: September 8, 2016

Bike Share is a new way of rapidly increasing the number of bikes (and bicyclists) in a city. The idea has been around for a long time – and we’re not talking about tandem bikes.


Early programs relied on trust, with a number of similarly-painted bikes released unlocked into the wild for anyone to use. Second-generation programs operated more like libraries, but still relied heavily on trust for bikes to be returned.

Today, with significant tech integration and investment in infrastructure, bike share is a serious endeavor for a city to undertake. Bike Share is seen across the world as an efficient new way to get more people riding.

Here’s a map that shows all past, present, and possibly future bike share systems in the world. 

Want more details about the history and rise of bike share? Worldwide Bikesharing (PDF), by Susan Shaheen and Stacey Guzman, is a great place to start. 

How does it work? 

In order to access a bike, you’ll need a membership. You can take a bike out for a single ride (single trip fare is $3), unlimited 3 hour trips within a 24 hour window (explorer pass, $15), or sign up for an annual membership ($149 a year or $14.90 a month). The short term, or “casual” memberships, can be purchased at any bike share kiosk. The long term membership can be online, via the app or in-person at select locations. Current members of Bay Area Bike Share will continue to be able to use the system.

Once you’re an annual member, you can take any bike out of any station and drop it off at any other station- for forty-five minutes at a time. Past 45 minutes, riders are charged overtime fees. That’s why having a dense network of stations which serves many different trip origins and destinations is important. It also means bikes are more often used for A to B trips rather than leisurely rides or recreational rides. Your membership is valid for any bike in the system – whether in the East Bay, San Francisco, or San Jose. In addition, the system works with clipper card, so you won’t be adding a new card to your collection. The bike share system will provide access to bikes where storage, maintenance, theft and up-front purchase are not barriers anymore.

Got more questions? Go to

What’s it got to do with me? 

Bike Share is already in operation in San Francisco and San Jose. We’re looking forward to seeing the program expand to the East Bay soon. Even if you don’t plan on using one of the bikes, we can guarantee bike share will have some effect on your commute. 

For one, we expect that it will enable more people to ride bikes; without the obstacles of needing to purchase a bike, or worry about maintenance, or even riding back up a hill, more people will choose to ride a bike even if only occasionally. 

According to Jay Walder, the CEO of Motivate: “Bike sharing is actually one of the most revolutionary changes that we’ve seen within the urban transportation space. It’s redefined our idea of what public transit should be. Bike sharing creates a system for personal mobility. It is personalized mass transit.” Read the full interview on Bicycles, Mobility and the Future of Cities here

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