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Bike Sharing Program Plans For 3,000 Bikes Around City

Chicago's "B-Cycle" bike sharing program launched in July 2010 offered rental bicycles at a number of tourist locations. The city is looking to expand the program to 3,000 bikes and 300 stations for summer 2012. (Credit: CBS)

Chicago’s “B-Cycle” bike sharing program launched in July 2010 offered rental bicycles at a number of tourist locations. The city is looking to expand the program to 3,000 bikes and 300 stations for summer 2012. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The city of Chicago plans to begin offering 3,000 bicycles to rent from 300 stations by next summer, under a bike sharing program announced on Wednesday.

As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, it could save you some steps between the train station and the office or offer a tourist an easy way to get around.

The city already has a small bike rental program known as B-cycle, which has been around for about a year, but it’s a small private venture with bikes available mostly at tourist locations.

What the city hopes to do is put about 3,000 bikes on the road by next summer with a large-scale sharing program. Officials aim to expand the program to 5,000 bikes and 500 stations in 2014

If you wish you could ride your bike to and from work or just spend a day pedaling in the city, bike-sharing could be for you.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody Reports

Under the program announced by Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein on Wednesday, bikes would be available for rent by the day, or through a yearly subscription.

To rent a bike, you simply visit a bike station and put in your credit card or, if you paid for a subscription, use a key fob provided through the program. Then you grab your bike.

You could then drop it off at any other bike rental station in the city.

“The mayor’s vision as he’s outlined is to create a world class city for bicycling,” Klein said.

To that end, the city is seeking proposals right now and plans to launch a system by next summer.

People we talked to like the idea.

Asked if she’d rent a bike through the program, Alex Prigge said, “Oh yeah, for sure. That’s something I’ve never seen before.”

Sean Jackson agreed.

“I would totally do it. I think it’s a great idea. I mean, you know, for exercise for one. You can get around the city without so much traffic,” Jackson said.

The city estimates a year-long subscription would be around $75.

The similar “Nice Ride” program in Minneapolis costs $60 a year, but as little as $1.50 for an hour, and $5 a day.

Chicago says the first 30 minutes would be free, with a graduated rate for longer rides.

“We also think bike sharing will put a critical mass of people on bikes and that will slow traffic down. That’s what we’ve seen in other cities,” Klein said.

Despite a lot of bike thefts in Paris when that city started bike sharing a few years ago, Klein says the bikes are tracked by GPS and there have been few thefts in U.S. cities with bike sharing.

Klein said the overall goal is to provide a fun healthy way to get around.

He also said adults might not be required to wear helmets for short trips, because the bikes don’t go that fast, but he said the issue of helmets has not yet been decided. The operator would also be required to have adequate liability insurance.