Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Krakow Launches Bike Sharing

With the rollout of BikeOne, Krakow has become the latest European city to jump on the bike-sharing bandwagon. The launch was postponed in September due to technical problems, and another date was missed in November. But the low-cost, public bike rental system finally got going before November's end with an initial fleet of 100 bikes parked at 12 stations.

BikeOne might be of interest to local cycling professionals, as Budapest City Hall is currently carrying out a feasibility study on a bike sharing scheme.

Like bike-sharing systems installed in recent years in Barcelona, Rome, Vienna, Lyon and, most famously, Paris, BikeOne is an almost-free bike rental service that users can subscribe to via Internet. They can then check in and check out bikes from special automatically locking racks positioned at strategic locations around town. In Krakow, at least according to the original intention, check outs were supposed to be manageable by SMS.

And unlike many other systems I've looked at, this one's website has a fully translated English page, making the service as accessible to tourists as it is to locals.

With fewer than 80 km of dedicated bike paths and cyclists accounting for less than 1 percent of all local passenger trips, Krakow is no cycling mecca. It's hoped that BikeOne will help change this by giving people a convenient, inexpensive way to ride bikes in the city centre. If all goes well, another 100 bikes will be added within two years' time.

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