AT&T* and Social Bicycles (SoBi) today announced that AT&T will enable their launch this fall of a bike sharing service in California, Idaho and New York. Social Bicycles have an integrated locking system with GPS tracking and connectivity to the AT&T wireless network.
Users can locate, reserve and unlock bikes through a mobile phone, allowing for easy pick up and drop off anywhere. Returns are as simple as finding any bicycle rack near your destination and checking it back in using the application. Half the U.S. population now has smartphones.
“Social Bikes is the first public bike share system that relies completely on a mobile network to track, locate and unlock bikes,” said Ryan Rzepecki, CEO, Social Bikes.
“The SoBi system is the only technology that provides a solution for the entire spectrum of bike share. It’s affordable enough for small-scale deployments and robust enough to serve larger municipal deployments. We’re excited about the benefits AT&T network will add to the system.”
SoBi provides advanced features like web and mobile reservations and real-time GPS tracking of the fleet. Once a customer locates a bicycle, the system sends the user’s pincode to the bike to confirm and unlock the bike. Users can return the bike by locking it to any bicycle rack in the area.
SoBi’s software also tracks C02 calories burned, emissions reduced, as well as dollars saved versus driving. SoBi founder Ryan Rzepecki says that the startup costs are a fraction of those using traditional infrastructure-based systems, like the Velib in Paris. Rzepecki says that these cost around $3,000 to $4,000 per bike to set up. SoBi costs less than $1,000 per bike.
The City of Portland last month selected locally-based Alta Bicycle Share to run a planned $4 million bike-sharing system. It beat out B-cycle, which relies on the integration of hardware and software to keep track of members and bikes, using a proprietary GPS and RFID system.
All rides are tracked by the system and associated with members. Data such as distance, duration, calories burned, and carbon offset are captured and uploaded to personal web pages at Bcycle.com.
Alta Bicycle Share was supposed to have had at least 1,000 bikes on New York City’s streets on or before July 31, but software glitches have delayed its launch until Spring. Unlike most other Alta cities, taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the costs of the program, thanks to sponsor Citibank, which ponied up $41 million to get the program rolling.
Urban planners increasingly see bike sharing as the mark of a world-class city. Thousands of commuters a day already use rapidly expanding networks in Washington, D.C., Miami, Minneapolis and 12 other U.S. cities. A new British study shows bicycle sharing provides a wide range of health benefits to urban residents.
Perhaps local ad revenue could pay for it all. A smartphone or small tablet on the handlebars might provide a moving guide to the city.
Could a bike-mounted device generate $300-$400 a month? Perhaps bike sharing could be free. More eyeballs generates more revenue.
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