I am a HUGE advocate of city bikes. In fact, the concept of bike sharing has become pretty widely accepted both stateside and abroad, with bike sharing systems in place in more than 600 cities worldwide.
Truth be told, despite the amount of traveling I do, I tend to live a very modest lifestyle. And, the best penny-pinching strategy I use is using the City Bikes, V’Lille, as my main form of transportation.
The city of Lille, where I live, has its own system called V’Lille. Thankfully, Lille is very flat, hence very bike-able. I personally like to think that its proximity to both Dutch and Belgian influences, have made Lille more bike-friendly.
How does bike sharing work?
A bicycle-sharing system, or public bicycle system, is a simple, yet brilliant, service in which bicycles are available for shared use to individuals on a short term basis. The programs allow people to borrow bikes to get from one place to another, as an alternative to vehicles or public transit, thus reducing pollution, traffic congestion, and more. Typically, most bike-share systems offer subscriptions with the first 30–45 minutes of use either free or very inexpensive. There are docking stations placed strategically around various parts of the city, and a person can purchase a subscription based on their needs (one year, one month, one week, one day, etc.) for example. Even better, systems allow users to locate docking stations as well as available bikes and parking spots via a smartphone app.
A yearly bike sharing subscription in Lille costs a whopping 37€ PER YEAR, and you can download the free smartphone app as well as “favorite” all of your preferred docking stations (mine include those near my house and the train stations). So, for a mere 37€ per year, I have a free, safe, convenient, and environmentally friendly to get around my city! (Even better, because I use these bikes to go to work (well, the train station), my employer ALSO reimbursed me with half of the money– 18,5€! Every bit helps, right!?)
Typically, I bike to and from work every day, which saves me 2€ per day, 24€ per month, and 288€ per year (and those are just the costs of taking the metro to and from work! I use City Bikes when going to and from private lessons, the gym, and much more in order to avoid the cost of the metro.) City bikes work at any time of day or night, so they are also perfect for going home after a night out on the other side of the city, or catching a late movie at the theatre. Having a bike pass is super convenient, and it really has helped me get to know the layout of Lille better!
Whenever I have friends visit, I urge them to buy either a 24-hour or 7-day pass, which makes it easier and more fun when it comes to exploring! I’ve also used City Bikes in Paris, Amsterdam, and London (super trippy on the left side of the road!) It is a great way to see a city, get around, and save money on public transportation!
Do you use a bike sharing system, either while you travel or while you commute?