Building Better Communities Through Bike Shares

As I noted in a recent post, there are a number of health benefits associated with riding a bike, road bikes in the case of me and my wife. For us, in our low-density, small (pop. 45,000) community, riding bikes is a way to include aerobic activity in our workout regimen.

For others, in larger, more densely packed cities, riding bikes can offer other benefits such as an additional form of transportation, reduced transportation costs, a reduction in vehicular traffic, a reduction in pollution, and in the case of Indego in Philadelphia, launched in 2015, a way to help build more inclusive communities through bike-sharing.


As noted on Wikipedia, a bike share system is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a very short-term basis. Bike share schemes allow people to borrow a bike from point “A” and return it at point “B.” Many bike-share systems offer subscriptions that make the first 30–45 minutes of use either free or very inexpensive, encouraging use as transportation. This allows each bike to serve several users per day. In most bike-share cities, casual riding over several hours or days is better served by bicycle rental than by bike-share. For many systems, smartphone mapping apps show nearby stations with available bikes and open docks.

Slate PlacemakersAs discussed in a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, PlacemakersIndego has made a mission of making bike share attractive to low-income and minority residents. The city has moved bike stations into non-white neighborhoods. It’s used ambassadors. It’s hired a multiracial team to run the bike-share program. And it’s tried and abandoned other ideas, in an attempt to break the social stigma of riding a bike in poor neighborhoods.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. We have a bike-share system here in Brisbane which covers a large area of the inner city as well as the sorts of places that tourists and students tend to hang out. I’ve used it a couple of times and found it so convenient although I usually ride my own bike into town.

    It has had a few issues though. With compulsory helmet laws here, you can be fined for riding without one and each bike stop will only have a few helmets available, if any, so unless you bring you own, you can’t legally ride.

    The other issue is that you need to pre-register to hire and pre-book for casual use so rather than spontaneously grabbing a bike and swiping your credit card, you have to go online, enter details yardy ya. Not the most convenient. For these main reasons it isn’t very popular which is a shame as it’s a great idea.

    • Good points regarding the helmets and elements of the process that makes it less convenient than it could be. Ideally these systems will improve over time as they offer a fair number of benefits.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, my friend.

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