Velo Antwerpen Bike Share
Velo Antwerpen is the name of the bike share program in Antwerp, Belgium, which debuted just over a year ago in June 2011. At this point there are roughly 85 bike stations positioned throughout the city, most of them around 300 meters apart, with an additional 60 stations planned for next year. On a visit a few months back I had the chance to use the system to get around town for a couple of days and was sent away impressed with the system as a whole, and how viable it seems for most anywhere dense enough to scale it properly. The bikes and the system itself is setup for short trips, not all day picnics, with purely utilitarian bikes best for just getting across town and a payment system that encourages brief rentals. For locals the system has a 35 Euro (~$45) annual fee, providing unlimited 30 minute trips throughout the year, 24 hrs per day, 365 days per year. If you need the bike for more than half an hour pricing scales to .5 Euro for the next half hour, a full Euro for the next, and 5 Euro per hour after up to a 4 hour limit. Best to use it for short trips and not worry about the fees. The system uses RFID membership cards to check bikes in and out, with realtime availability and service info available from the interconnected stations. Impressive, and quite useful to bounce around town. Look for similar systems throughout the United States in the coming years, most every city seems to have a group dedicated to seeing it happen and the latest crop of bikeshare systems appear to be working wherever implemented.