“Using wireless technology to enhance personal mobility.” This is one of the taglines for SoBi, a new social bike share system.
What it is
Although the idea of public bike sharing has been around for quite awhile, (the first large scale deployment came from the city of Paris when they launched ‘Vélib’ a system with 20,000 bikes in 2007) the SoBi system is different in that instead of large central racks from which the bikes are rented and returned, the SoBi model places all the technology for renting and tracking on the bike itself.
Why it’s Cool
Riders can use their mobile phones to check-out available bikes and unlock them from anywhere (via a keypad and pin code sent from a centralized service). An on-board GPS and cellular system (all powered by pedaling cyclists) keeps track of how long they have been used for and where they have been placed at the end of their journey.
Riders are incentivised to keep the bikes within certain areas via additional recovery fees, and you may be wondering what happens if your bike ends up with a flat tire? Independent operators maintain the bikes and you simply hit the “repair” button on the keypad lock and the bike will be flagged for later pick-up.