The City of Miami Beach has teamed up with Decobike to debut its new system of public bicycle sharing and rental, scheduled to commence in late December 2010 or early in 2011. The program, when it launches, will include an initial deployment of approximately 1,000 customized Decobikes and 100-plus automated stations located throughout the city of Miami Beach, though it is expected to expand to include an additional 600 bikes and three dozen more stations.
After two years of careful planning, Miami Beach has preempted other municipalities to begin to consider bike sharing as a viable public transportation option. “This isn’t just an amenity as some may think. It’s a full-scale, multi-million dollar, citywide transit system. It’s a 'green' commuter program that gets you from point to point, replacing short trips normally made by car. It’s fast, fun, easy and affordable. No hassles of maintenance, storage or theft for Decobike members,” says Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Gongora.
HOW IT WORKS
The first step will be to find the closest Decobike station with available bikes. Members then will swipe their BeachPass card, visitors and non-members swipe a credit card or check card. Follow the instructions on the screen, then your assigned bike will be released for use.
To return, just find another DecoBike station, insert the front tire into the dock, pull back on the bike's handle bars to ensure it's locked and make sure the status light is green. That's it.
When the program launches there will be 100 stations available, on Lincoln Road alone there will be 9 stations, meaning there will be a place to take or return a bike almost every other block. Driving up and down Collins Ave., riders will find a DecoBike station close to every major hotel or every few blocks from South Pointe all the way to the North Shore Open Space Park.
Residents who plan to use DecoBike frequently can buy a BeachPass for $15 a month. This includes an iPhone App that offers maps, availability and other useful information.
Short term rentals will run you $4 for a half-hour or $5 for a full hour, after the first hour the rate bumps up to $6 an hour until the bike is returned.
The third option is to buy a one-day pass for $14 or a five-day unlimited rides pass for $49. This is a great option for tourists who plan to stay on Miami Beach but want to have transportation readily available.
There is a $10 fee to enroll in the program and additional fees for cancelling or losing your BeachPass. If you don't return the bike within 24 hours or the bike is damaged or lost, you will find a hefty fee of $675 charged to your card to replace the DecoBike.
KEEP IT GREEN
European cities like Barcelona and Paris have similar bike sharing programs that have been successful and Miami Beach is a great launching point for this kind of green initiative. Notes DecoBike VP Colbert Reese, “Miami Beach has twelve great months of weather plus health-conscious residents suited to be role models for other world-class cities. Our program has the best supply ratio of bikes-to-residents in world. It’s the perfect environment to start creating awareness of a new, sustainable public transportation option.”
The environmental benefits of this program would be improved air quailty, fewer carbon emissions, less noise pollution. Even the 100+ docking stations situated throughout Miami Beach are solar-powered.
WILL IT CATCH ON?
In a city as image-obsessed as Miami Beach, it remains to be seen if residents and visitors will trade in their vehicles for DecoBikes. But in a town where parking tickets will run you at least $23 and valet parking at hotels can be upwards of $25, having a bike to take you a few blocks up Collins Ave. just makes financial sense.
For more information about the DecoBike program, visit www.decobike.com.