Bike-Sharing FAQ

What is bike sharing?

Bike sharing is an automated system that allows people to take and return bicycles for short trips. The bikes can be picked up from one location and returned to another.

How does it work?

Bike sharing is a self-service system. Customers simply step up to a pay box, swipe a payment card and a bike is unlocked electronically, ready to use. Customers can check out and return bikes at any bike station.

How many bikes and will be available for public use?

Initially, the city plans to deploy 3,000 bikes at 300 bike stations, with another 1,000 bikes and 100 stations added during the following 12 months.

Where will the bicycle stations be located?

The city plans to install stations near transit connections, shopping and business destinations, major cultural and tourist locations, and other places. You can suggest locations for stations on the CDOT bike share website.

Who will own and operate Chicago’s bike-sharing system?

The bikes and stations will be owned by the City of Chicago and managed by private vendor Alta Bike Share. 

How will bike sharing benefit Chicago?

Chicago is planning the second largest bike-sharing system in the nation. It will generate hundreds of thousands of new bicycle trips per year. Many of these trips will replace car trips, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. The increase in bicycling will help thousands of people get additional exercise, while also strengthening the vibrant street life that defines Chicago.

Is bike sharing a good option for a long distance bike ride?

Bike-sharing services are intended for short trips within designated zones, and the service is priced to encourage trips less than 30 minutes. For longer bike rides we recommend daily bicycle rental from a service like Bike and Roll Chicago

Will helmets be provided for bike-sharing customers?

No. Helmets will not be provided at the bike-sharing stations. We recommend that users bring their own helmets.

How much will it cost to use?

For pricing information, please visit the CDOT bike share website. The city hasn’t released this information yet, but as in other cities with bike-sharing programs, there will probably be different rates for annual, monthly, and one-day user options. During the time allotted for each pass, users typically get unlimited trips under 30 minutes.

Photos courtesy of Alan Medcalf


How can I sign up?

The city plans to launch the bike share program in spring 2013, and is providing information about the program on its website. You can also join our mailing list to receive notifications about the program's launch and other details.

How can I learn more?

Check out these resources for information on bike-sharing programs in other cities.

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