I find this a very interesting topic-both of my daughters are using the bike- share system in NYC-they love it.
Bike-share has seen explosive, global growth over recent years. As of April 2013, there were around 535 bike-sharing programs around the world, made of an estimated fleet of 517,000 bicycles. In May 2011 there were around 375 schemes comprising 236,000 bikes. So those two years saw a doubling of bike share globally.
Many bike-share systems offer subscriptions that make the first 30-45 minutes of use very inexpensive, encouraging their use as transportation. In most bike-share cities, people seeking a bicycle for casual riding over several hours or days are better served by bicycle rental than by bike-share.
Bike-share use is made more predictable with Smartphone mapping apps which show where nearby stations are located and how many bikes are available at each station. This is also important for riders looking to return a bike; they need to know if there is a dock open at a certain station, since stations can fill up with bikes. So using bike-share to get around a city is made far easier with real-time, GPS-based smartphone apps with bike-share station information overlaid on a city map.
The reasons people use bike-share vary considerably. In some cities, people who might use their own bicycle as transportation don’t do so because of concerns about theft or vandalism. In addition, many bike-share users find bike-share extremely liberating. A rider can seamlessly transfer to public transit or to a car without concern about leaving a bike behind: a person can ride to meet someone in a city, leave the bike-share bike then walk with them, tourists go from hotel to museum to show, citizens can take visiting friends or family to local attractions with bike-share, users may take public transit to work on a rainy day then ride home afterwards when the weather improves… the flexibility of not having to always park and own a bicycle make life freer and easier for the growing number of bike-share users globally.
The Wuhan and Hangzhou Public Bicycles bike-share programs in China are the largest in the world, with around 90,000 and 60,000 bicycles respectively. In Hangzhou there are over 2,400 stations. The Velib in Paris, which comprises around 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 bicycle stations, is the largest outside of China. The countries with the most systems are Spain (132), Italy (104), and China (79).The systems with the higher market penetration are both operating in France, the Parisian Velib’ with 1 bike per 97 inhabitants and Lyon with 1 bike per 121 residents.
– excerpts from Wikepedia