Running bike-sharing networks through smartphones

It’s August and it’s gorgeous outside, at least where I live. I suggest you learn a little about innovations in bike-sharing, then go outside and play.

Shareable.net reports on Ryan Rzepecki’s Social Bicycles System:

Instead of relying on kiosks and docking stations to connect users to bikes, cyclists use their smartphones to locate, check out, and lock bikes—everything is portable, wireless, decentralized, and self-contained. The tech is stored in a small “lock box” attached to the rear wheel, which connects the bike to a central server. Users create an account with SoBi, find a bike through a call or smartphone app, and receive a code which they can use to unlock the bicycle from an ordinary rack. They can just enter their account info directly into the lock box; they use the same pin code every time, “just like with a bank card.”

A few advantages: You don’t need docking stations, a la B-cycle systems. The bikes can theoretically be a lot cheaper than the $3,500 (!) cycles in the world’s first citywide network in Paris. And, as with any of the fast-spreading bike-sharing networks, you get mobility without needing a car.

Rzepecki is planning on a 20-bike test deployment in New York next month.