Timeline of bicycle sharing systems

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This is a timeline of bicycle sharing systems, attempting to describe significant events related to the evolution of the systems, as well as their expansion worldwide.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1960s Bike sharing dates back to this decade, with the introducction of the first system in Amsterdam. Considered first generation, the system comprises ordinary bikes without locks or racks. First generation systems are still used in closed areas such as national parks.[1]
1970s Many city governments and non-governmental organizations start attending the creation of bike sharing systems and begin to consider them as part of the public transport system.[2]
1990s The second and third generations of bicycle sharing systems are introduced in the decade. The second generation introduces bikes specially designed that can be picked up and returned at specific locations (racks) with a coin deposit (like super market trolleys). The third generation includes high tech solutions like electronically locking racks, or bike locks, chip cards, mobile phones and internet. The third generation system 'knows' who uses the bikes.[1][3]
2000s The fourth generation of bicycle sharing systems is introduced, incorporating mobile docking stations which allows them to be removed and transferred to different locations, thus enabling stations to be relocated according to usage patterns and user demands.[4]
2010s Today, bike-sharing services are ubiquitous in many major cities. An unprecedented growth has been fueled by the propagation of “dockless” systems, shared bicycles that can be parked nearly anywhere, increasing the number of publicly accessible bikes from 1.2 million worldwide in 2015 to more than 16 million in China alone in just two years.[5]

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details Country
1965 System launch A group of activists in Amsterdam introduce the Wittefietsenplan (White Bikes), a set of dozens of regular bicycles painted in white and left unlocked for anyone to use and leave behind for the next person. The program is not a business offering, but a political statement of concern for pollution and against the growing number of cars in the city. It would eventually result into a massive failure and would be quickly shut down after many of the bikes are stolen or damaged. The main person behind the program, Luud Schimmelpennink, is considered the father of the bike share.[6][7][8] Netherlands (Amsterdam)
1974 System launch Vélos Jaunes program in La Rochelle introduces 350 bicycles.[9] France
1975 The idea of a bicycle sharing system is illustrated in Ernest Callenbach's novel Ecotopia, a utopian novel of a society that does not use fossil fuels. Callenbach describes a system available to inhabitants and integrated as part of the public transportation system.[10]
1991 System launch A second generation of bike-sharing program launches in Farsø and Grenå, Denmark.[11] These bikes can be picked up and returned at specific locations (racks) with a coin deposit (like super market trolleys). These second generation bikes would still experience theft due to the anonymity of the users, though their advantage remains in their simplicity and low cost. The system is still in use in Denmark and other (Scandinavian) countries.[1] Denmark
1995 System launch Having taken 30 years for another major city to attempt a large-scale public bike program, Bycyklen, or City Bikes, launches in Copenhagen as the first large-scale second generation bike-sharing program, with many improvements over the previous generation.[11] This system allows users to access sturdy, shared bicycles at specific locations throughout the city via a coin-operated system. Despite clear improvements over Amsterdam’s White Bikes, thefts and vandalism still plague the program, in addition to problems in funding. The system eventually flourish, featuring fixed docks, where riders deposit money to unlock the bikes. Riders would then get their deposit back after returning the bike to a dock.[6][7] Denmark (Copenhagen)
1996 System launch Bikeaboutin launches at Portsmouth University in England as the third generation of bike-sharing programs, where students can use a magnetic stripe card to rent a bike.[11] It is the first to come up with a solution to the theft problem. The magnetic-stripe card to borrow a bike, allows it to be tracked when it isn't returned.[7] United Kingdom
1996 Organization 8D Technologies is founded in Canada. It develops bicycle-sharing systems and automated parking management systems.[12] Canada
1998 System launch “Vélos à la carte” launches in Rennes, France, introducing to a city the third-generation of bike-sharing replacing coin-access with smart card access. It is the first city-scale bike-share program to use magnetic-stripe cards and RFID technology. The bikes are free to use, and have fixed docks in certain location.[6][7][13][8] France (Rennes)
2000 Research A number of researches relative to bicycle-sharing schemes emerges.[14]
2000 April System launch The Buga system launches in Aveiro.[15] Portugal
2003 June System launch Citybike Wien launches in Vienna. [16] Austria
2003 System launch Oslo Bysykkel is launched.[17] Norway
2005 System launch “Lyon Vélo’v” is introduced in Lyon, France with bikes equipped with electronic components allowing for the bike to be identified by the stations, the distance traveled and conditions of the bikes (lights, dynamo, brakes, etc.) to be tracked, and detailed statistics about bike usage collected.[13][7] France
2006 April System launch Stockholm City bikes is introduced.[18] Sweden
2007 March 22 System launch Bicing is launched in Barcelona.[19] Spain
2007 System launch Vélib’ bicycle sharing system launches in Paris.[7] France
2007–2017 Expansion Bicycle-sharing schemes experience a major breakthrough in cities at a global scale during this period. Of the estimated 1,600 schemes in operation in 2017, approximately 95 percent were launched since 2007, with more than 200 in 2017 alone.[5]
2007 December Expansion There are about 60 third generation programs globally by the time.[11]
2008 System launch SmartBike DC launches in Washington, D.C. as a 10-station, 120-bike pilot program, the first modern bike-share system in the United States. The system uses the same Clear Channel technology developed for Rennes’s Vélo à la Carte.[7] United States
2008 System launch Government-owned company Bixi in Montréal pilots its own system with innovative, robust bicycles and a modular docking system.[7] Canada
2008 Organization Smoove is founded in France. It designs, manufactures and markets products related to bike-sharing.[20] France
2008 July 31 System launch Cicloteque launches in Bucharest.[21] Romania
2008 Expansion A rise of bikes in experienced in the United States with similar features, so-called commuter bikes, which are geared directly at riders looking to use bicycles for daily work and study travel.[22] United States
2008 Expansion Bike-sharing finally begins to take hold outside Europe, with new programs in Brazil, Chile, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States. Each is the first third generation bike-sharing program for the countries.[11]
2008 October System launch Hangzhou Public Bicycle launches. It is one of the world’s largest, with more than 78,000 bicycles.[7] China
2008 December 8 System launch BikeMi launches in Milan.[23] Italy (Milan)
2008 Expansion An estimated 92 programs worldwide are calculated for the end of the year.[11]
2009 May 19 System launch Villo! launches in Brussels.[24] Belgium
2009 May System launch BIXI launches in Canada. This system marks the beginning of bikesharing’s fourth generation. The scheme incorporates mobile docking stations which allows stations to be removed and transferred to different locations. This enables stations to be relocated according to usage patterns and user demands. Another feature that could enhance future programs is the use of solar-powered stations.[4] Canada
2009 September System launch Dublin Bikes launches.[25] Ireland
2009 November System launch YouBike is launched in Taipei.[26] Taiwan (Taipei)
2010 March 22 System launch Cyclocity Toyama launches.[27] Japan
2010 June System launch Melbourne Bike Share is introduced.[28] Australia
2010 July 30 System launch Santander Cycles launches.[29] United Kingdom (London)
2010 System launch EcoBici launches in Buenos Aires.[30] Argentina
2010 System launch EcoBici is launched in Mexico City.[31]
2010 Infrastructure Oliver O'Brien, a researcher at University College London creates a Bike Share Map digital using cartography and data visualization. Updated in real time, the map shows the location of bike share stations in 150 cities across the world, and would become one of the easiest ways for users to get updated on information on their local bike programs.[32] United Kingdom
2010 Organization Jump Bikes is founded in the United States. It is a dockless scooter and electric bicycle sharing system operating in the United States, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom.[33] United States
2011 March System launch Ecovolis launches in Tirana.[34] Albania
2011 May Statistics There are around 375 bike-sharing systems worldwide, comprising 236,000 bicycles.[2]
2011 May 12 System launch BicikeLJ is introduced in Ljubljana.[35] Slovenia
2011 October System launch EasyBike launches in Nicosia.[36] Cyprus
2011 System launch EnCicla launches in Medellin.[37] Colombia
2011 July System launch NS Bike launches in Novi Sad.[38] Serbia
2012 System launch Bikesampa launches in Sao Paulo.[39] Brazil
2012 May System launch Houston B-cycle launches in Houston.[40] United States
2012 August 1 System launch Veturilo is launched in Warsaw.[41] Poland
2012 System launch BiciQ launches in Quito.[42] Ecuador
2012 November System launch Pun Pun Bike Share is introduced in Bangkok.[43] Thailand
2012 Statistics As of date, the biggest sharing system peograms are in Wuhan and Hangzhou, with around 90,000 and 60,000 bikes respectively.[2] China
2013 March Research A study published in the American Journal of Public Health reports observing an increase in cycling and health benefits where bicycle sharing systems are run.[44]
2013 April Expansion There are around 535 bike-sharing systems, made of an estimated fleet of 517,000 bicycles.[2] Worldwide
2013 May 27 System launch Citi Bike launches in New York City "New York’s bike-share system launches with 6,000 bikes and a first-of-its-kind funding model that uses no public dollars, fully paid for by corporate sponsorships."[7][45][46][47][48] United States
2013 June System launch Velobike is launched in Moscow.[49] Russia
2013 July Statistics As of date, the systems with the higher market penetration are Vélib' in Paris with 1 buke per 97 inhabitants, Vélo'v in Lyon with 1 bike per 121 residents, and Hangzou in China with 1 per 145.[2]
2013 System launch Rekola launches in Prague.[50] Czechia
2013 System launch Weifang Public Bicycle launches.[51] China
2013 System launch Bikesantiago launches in Santiago.[52] Chile
2013 Expansion A 60 percent increase in the number of programs is experienced globally, with 65 new bike-share launches in China alone. The number of bike-share bikes worldwide hits 700,000.[7]
2014 April System launch BuBi launches in Budapest.[53] Hungary
2014 June Statistics Public bike-sharing systems operate in 50 countries on five continents, including 712 cities, operating approximately 806,200 bicycles at 37,500 stations.[2] Worldwide
2014 July 16 System launch Orania Openbare Fietsprojek is introduced in Orania, South Africa.[54] South Africa
2014 December System launch ADCB Bikeshare launches in Abu Dhabi.[55] United Arab Emirates
2014 Infrastructure Madrid becomes the first European city to offer an all-electric bicycle program.[56] Spain
2015 January 27 Organization Mobike is founded. It is, by the number of bicycles, the world's largest shared (for hire) bicycle operator.[57] China
2015 Statistics The number of bike-share bicycles hits an estimated 1,000,000 worldwide. China is by far the leader in the sheer number of bicycles.[7] "By the end of 2014, the number of shared bikes in the world amounted to almost one million. China led the charts with more than 750,000 shared bikes in 237 cities, followed by France with almost 43,000 bikes in 38 cities. Britain was seventh highest with almost 11,000 bikes."[58]
2015 April 23 System launch Indego launches in Philadelphia.[59] United States
2015 October 15 System launch Ddareungi launches in Seoul.[60] South Korea
2015 Research A study published in the journal Transportation concludes that bike sharing systems can be grouped into behaviourally similar categories based upon their size, where larger systems display greater behavioural heterogeneity amongst their stations, and smaller systems generally have stations which all behave similarly in terms of their daily utilization patterns.[61]
2016 April System launch Tel-O-Fun launches in Tel Aviv.[62] Israel
2016 June System launch Almatybike launches in Almaty.[63] Kazakhstan
2016 July 7 System launch Metro Bike Share is introduced in Los Angeles.[64] California
2016 Research A positive environmental impact is found in Shanghai, where bike sharing systems are found to cut down carbon dioxide (CO2) by 25,240 tons.[3] China
2016 December Research Publication claim that bike-share programs fail to reach more low-income communities.[65]
2017 May System launch Helsinki City Bikes launches.[66] Finland
2017 December Expansion An estimated 16 million bikes on China’s streets transport about 130 million registered users.[67] China
2017 Research It is found that bicycle sharing annual memberships in the United States make up for more than 96% of total trips made in the country.[56] United States
2017 Research Studies in Beijing and Shanghai link the massive increase of dockless bike shares to the decrease in the number of private automobile trips that are less than five kilometers.[68] China
2018 January 1 System launch Vélib' Métropole launches in Paris.[69] France
2018 System launch JoBike launches in Dhaka.[70] Bangladesh
2018 August 15 System launch Nextbike is introduced in Kiev.[71] Ukraine
2018 August Expansion Chinese Mobike now operates in over 200 cities and 19 countries around the world.[72][73]

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See also

External links


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