Huge growth for bike sharing in US last year

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Forty cities in the U.S. host some type of bicycle-sharing system at the beginning of 2014, after 13 cities joined the effort to use rental bikes to solve traffic congestion and pollution in 2013.

Snowbound Divvy bikes in Chicago (photo by pdbminer @ twitter)

Snowbound Divvy bikes in Chicago (photo by pdbminer @ twitter)

In spite of successful ridership for those systems throughout the year, several had to shut down briefly because of snow and/or cold weather in the past week.

The largest systems were launched in New York City (Citibike – with more than 5,000 bikes at 332 stations) and Chicago (Divvy – with 2,400 bikes in 300 stations).

Worldwide, the Bike-Sharing Blog tallied 675 cities with bike-sharing systems. Some 700,000 rental bikes are available at 33,000 stations.

The number of bike rental stations available in the US more than doubled to 1,925 by the end of 2013, according to the GreaterGreaterWashington blog.

Seattle launches in 2014

More bike-sharing systems are on the drawing board for 2014. Most notably for the Pacific Coast, systems are on track for Seattle, Portland, Sacramento.

The Seattle system, dubbed Puget Sound Bike Share for now, received City Council approval last fall and is searching for a corporate sponsor. The latest news from the system’s executive director puts the system on schedule for a launch this spring.

Weather closures

Last week’s heavy snow across the Midwest and East Coast caused several bike-sharing systems to cancel operations for a few days.

Chicago’s Divvy and Boston’s Hubway both close late last week because of the snowstorm.

Divvy and Hubway both reopened on Saturday, but Divvy had to close again on Sunday:

“Given what some forecasters are calling “life-threatening” wind chills, we feel it is appropriate to suspend service for the safety of our riders and our staff. … As with our first closure late last week, we’ll re-open the system once conditions are safe and stations are operational.”

The Divvy staff expects the system to remain open most days this winter, noting that people took 45,000 trips in December.

The CoGo Bike Share in Columbus also closed its 30 stations on Sunday because of the Arctic cold sweeping the region. “Due to the life threatening windchill forecast for Sunday … and Monday…, we will not be digging out snow-bound B-stations until conditions are safe for B-cycle staff to be working outside.”

Citibike in New York City chose not to close down the system, but urged members to follow the traffic advisories and stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.

Another large bike share system in the north — Nice Ride in Minneapolis-St. Paul — simply closes at the end of November and reopens in April.

Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC metro area kept its 300 stations open.

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