The first public bike-share system was proposed in 1965 by Amsterdam city councilman Luud Schimmelpennink, who advocated for a free system with 20,000 bicycles to help alleviate automobile traffic in the city. Amsterdam’s city council rejected the proposal, and while a free system of that size has never been implemented, two U.S. cities — Madison, Wis., and Portland, Ore., — have implemented smaller free systems.
In 1993, the cities of La Rochelle, France, and Cambridge, England, implemented free bicycle systems that had limited use and range; users had to return bikes to the stations where they received them, making only round trips possible.
The first system using technology to allow point to point trips was introduced in two French cities, Rennes in 1998 and Lyon in 2001. Both systems proved successful, and the transport mode began to spread in popularity. In 2006, bike share popularity began to skyrocket, and now, in 2013, more than 400 cities deploy more than 700,000 bicycles.
“Bike sharing is a post-ownership transport system that is environmentally sustainable, healthy and business-oriented,” said Walter Hook. “It’s the transport of the future.”