Bike sharing programs are rarely free. Memberships can range from 5$ / day to 80$/year. Bike sharing tends to work best in cities where there is not a lot of bicycling activity. When bike ownership is over 40% many bike sharing systems do not do well.
There is a great deal of diversity in bike share programs. The initial, low-tech, programs gathered a fleet of bikes, often painted them all the same color, and place them in the community or on the campus to be shared. There might still be a few of these. The next development was more like a bike-library. Participants had to register, but there was not always money involved for the membership or user-time. There are still a few of these. For the newest generation of hi-tech bike share scheme, money almost always changes hands, but there is a wide range of structures.
My Aunt lives in Omaha, and when she explained it to me, she said that you would put in a deposit, but that you would get it back. However, on closer inspection of the website I see that there may be more costs involved. Personally, I think that a bike sharing program is good for emergencies when someone gets a flat tire and has to get another vehicle fast. However, there are some major disadvantages to using a shared bike. The big one is that you can’t customize the bikes to fit your body. When a bike fits you properly, you can maximize your efficiency and speed.
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