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Transportation Open Source

Inside Bratislava's Low-Cost, Open Source Bike Share Solution 37

An anonymous reader writes: The Bike Kitchen started WhiteBikes in Bratislava after a failed attempt by the city to finance a similar program. At first users shared donated bikes with the same lock code. They needed a system that would work somewhat automatically without the need for manual rentals (e.g. somebody giving out bicycles). From there, smsBikeShare was born. Users registered with a mobile phone number and could send basic SMS commands (RENT, RETURN, FREE, WHERE, etc.). The system used an inexpensive SMS gateway API and a local message-back number to receive and respond to messages. Shared bicycles have a coded U-lock with a four-digit number, and upon renting a bike, users receive a code to unlock the bicycle and another to reset it to once they are done. Send a message, receive the answer, unlock the bike, reset the lock, and you're off pedaling.
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Inside Bratislava's Low-Cost, Open Source Bike Share Solution

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  • If I can't ride my bike I will walk or take public transport.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2015 @06:03PM (#49200741)

      But with bike share you can do both - I have a friend who walks a block to a bike share stand, rides it to the DC metro, then grabs another bike share for the last few blocks to her office. For commuting, it can be super convenient.

    • Same for me. But there was a situation when I was visiting my parents who live about 250 km away. I took the train. On my way back it was already so late that the last bus from the station to my home was gone. A rental bicycle would have been perfect for this situation. I had to walk instead, not a problem but it took me almost two hours. Would have been more like half an hour on a bike.

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @06:06PM (#49200767)

    Am I just having a really, really cynical day today, or could this never work in the USA because people are much bigger jerks here?

    • Re:Not here (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Paco103 ( 758133 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @06:27PM (#49200945)

      I don't know that it's just here. I think most people are good and honest, but there's enough assholes to ruin a program like this for everyone. They'd have to have credit cards attached or something, or it would be a matter of weeks until someone either stole or destroyed them all. Unfortunately it would be the .01% of people that would ruin things like this for everybody!

      • []

        Credit card is used to pre-authorize until the bike is returned to a rack. Seems to me SMS would work better, as you could have them directly billed to the person's phone bill in a similar way (agreements would have to be made with the carrier).

        And yes, even in this system, there's a certain amount of damage, both to bikes and to the racks.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The people who want to ride the bikes are rarely the problem at all, as long as you got a credit card/safety deposit linked to them that's not a big issue. They can break it, but the service will typically eat that as part of doing business. One problem is theft by breaking the locks, which is why the city bikes around here are all a corny model with custom color. It would be fairly obvious it's not a regular for-sale bike, even if you removed the ads that pay for it. The big problem is vandalism while they

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You don't get much bigger jerks than in Slovakia.

    • Re:Not here (Score:4, Funny)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Friday March 06, 2015 @07:05PM (#49201231) Homepage

      Even when it involves being jerks, Americans think they're unique. ;)

    • The Copenhagen bike-share system is free with a deposit of a coin that's worth about $5, which unlocks the bike, and you get your coin back when you relock it to a bikeshare rack. As the tourist guidebooks say, if you don't want to go to the trouble of returning your bike to the rack, a local bum will happily do it for you. (Ifound this to be correct, even when "not returning the bike" meant "hiding it in the shadows behind the store I was popping in to" - there wasn't a bikeshare rack nearby.)

      • by jemmyw ( 624065 )

        Was free. That system was abolished in 2012 []

        They have the white bikes now, which I've used but they're quite pricey, and there's no bum replacement service. They do have electric motors and GPS, so I guess they're more aimed towards tourists than casual use.

    • They tried this "yellow bike" program in Austin in the 90s. It went about as well as you would expect. The yellow bikes lasted about a couple months until they were all gone. Shipped to Mexico.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a little fuzzy. With a free bike service, who pays for the maintenance?
    tires get flats, treads wear thin, chains corrode, brakes wear out, cables fray, gears rust,...

  • by Anonymous Coward

Only God can make random selections.