Comparing Bikeshare & Bike Rental in USA vs Europe vs ChinaJune 3, 2019
Whenever it’s been even remotely practical, I’ve tried to use transit & bikes for all of my city transportation, every time I travel. This is a run-down of all of the cities where I’ve rented bikes or used the city’s municipal bike-share system, along with where I’ve gone, and my impressions of biking in the area. Definitely hope to update this with more cities as I get around!
Dockless bike-share bikes were easy to get to in Berlin, and were always somewhat neatly parked near most train stations. I picked mine up after getting off my ICE3 train from Munich, and used it for a few days worth of business trips to & from work.
I absolutely fell in love with Munich during about a week I spent there on business, and a huge reason was the bike culture & infrastructure that makes it so easy to live & work in the city without a car.
Zurich was such an eye-opener for me in terms of bike & transit utility. It’s the same size city as my home in Portland, OR, except nearly 20 times more people bike & take transit. The hotels I stayed in offered bikes for rent, and the train station rented me a mountain bike to crank up the Uetliberg, the tallest mountain in the city, for a fabulous after-work ride.
I stayed with a friend for my birthday weekend in Austria, and asked for some sort of rental bike so I could do some mountain biking. The bike they ended up giving me in town was a fabulous carbon XC hardtail which climbed like nobody’s business.
I should say that I’ve never been anywhere that the average level of athleticism was so high. I’ve never felt so out of shape and dumpy in my life. But goodness, GOODNESS the views around there.
I got to try two different bike-share systems in London. I used Ofo bikes, which I’ve used elsewhere as well. The benefit, obviously, is that you can leave it wherever you need to rather than having to find a station, and pickup tends to be easier as well. The drawback is that the direct-drive bikes are slow and energy-sapping and really aren’t for taller folks like me.
I also tried the Santander-branded docked bike-share bikes, They were a bit more expensive than the Mobike rentals (not by much), and yes you had to find a dock. But the bikes were vastly faster and more comfortable, and felt like an actually-viable mode of transportation.
Yiwu, Zhejiang, China
San Antonio, Texas
Los Angeles, California