B-Inspired: Bike Shares of Europe

Recently I, Connor MacWilliams, (one of your faithful marketing interns) took a month long journey of a lifetime through Western Europe. In between sightseeing and the occasional visit to a local pub, I was able to seek out inspiration in the form of international bike share systems.

Europe was the birth place of bike share and has been paving the way for bike share systems, like Madison B-cycle, to be implemented across the world. The first system that I encountered was DublinBikes.

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Rightfully located in Dublin, Ireland, DublinBikes is operated by the city of Dublin and has been running since 2009. Recently DublinBikes announced a massive growth plan to implement an additional 950 bikes and 58 stations to its fleet! Luckily for me the bike share Gods were keeping me in their sights and placed a station right outside of my hostile.

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We can dream.

After visiting the wonderful city of Dublin, I wandered on to the hustle and bustle of London. The city of London has one of the largest bike share systems in the world, Barclay’s Cycle Hire.

Fun Fact: Barclay’s Cycle Hire was implemented by Mayor Boris Johnson and is widely refereed to as “Boris Bikes”

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Let me just start with the fact that London was a terrifying place to ride bikes. The traffic is massive and let’s just say that Londoners are too preoccupied with the well being of cyclists. Once I veered off the heavily populated roads, the ride was quite nice.

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Barclay’s Cycle Hire was ahead of the curve when it came to reporting damaged bikes. For a fleet the size of Madison B-cycle’s it is manageable to continually maintain our entire fleet. However, when you are the size of Barclay’s fleet (8,000+) a system to notify the team of damaged bicycles comes in handy.

En route to Paris I made a pitstop at the birthplace of the world’s best waffles and chocolate, the city of Brussels, Belgium. Villo! is Brussels resident bike share system with a fleet of 5,000 bikes and 360 stations.

villo.brussels.jpgThe design of the Villo! bikes, like most bike share bicycles, was a standard cruiser frame, 3 speeds and a basket to fit all the Belgium beer and chocolate possible. Brussels was a fantastic city to bike in! The roads were not heavily congested and the citizens of Brussels respected the rules of the road…aka when I rang my bell they jumped to the right.

My final international bike share destination was the home to the world’s larget bike share system, Paris.

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Vélib’ (yes that is the correct spelling…don’t ask me why) was launched in July 2007 and currently has around 18,000 bikes and 1,200 stations. The estimated ridership (per day) is around 100,000 rides. To put that number into perspective on July 10th Madison B-cycle hit our 100,000th ride since our opening in 2011. Talk about self-conscious.

Having the opportunity to travel to these incredible places has reinvigorated my love of bike share and I hope to bring some new ideas to the table that were inspired by my time abroad. Keep an eye out B-cyclers!

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