How Much Does Your City’s Bike Share Cost?
We gathered data from local bike share programs in 65 cities nationwide to find out!
Updated: October 18, 2018
No, it’s not just you: Over the past half-decade, bike sharing programs have exploded in popularity. And not just in America. Their meteoric rise has been a worldwide phenomenon. Between 2013 and 2016 alone, the global number of shared bicycles jumped from 700,000 to 2.3 million!
Much like car sharing companies, local bike sharing programs don’t just benefit hometown residents. They’re great for tourists as well. Why spend a hefty chunk of your vacation budget on a car rental or ride shares when you can head to the nearest docking station and rent a bicycle as needed? You can even plan your own scenic tour!
But while many bike sharing programs in the U.S. are fairly affordable, some of them cost way more than others. To try and gain a clearer picture of bike sharing affordability nationwide, we looked up bike sharing programs in 65 different towns and cities across the country and we compared the costs of renting a bike for one day.
Here’s what we found!
How much does a one-day bike rental cost in your city?
|City||Cost for one day/8-hour rental||Bike share service|
|Fargo, ND||$5.00||Great Rides Bike Share|
|Los Angeles, CA||$5.00||Metro Bike Share|
|Nashville, TN||$5.00||Nashville B-cycle|
|Dayton, OH||$5.00||Link Dayton Bike Share|
|Greenville, SC||$5.00||Greenville B-cycle|
|El Paso, TX||$6.00||El Paso B-cycle|
|Omaha, NE||$6.00||Heartland B-Cycle|
|Minneapolis, MN||$6.00||Nice Ride|
|McAllen, TX||$6.00||McAllen B-cycle|
|Des Moines, IA||$6.00||Des Moines B-cycle|
|Madison, WI||$6.00||Madison B-cycle|
|Salt Lake City, UT||$7.00||Green Bike|
|Columbus, OH||$8.00||CoGo Bike Share|
|Fort Worth, TX||$8.00||Fort Worth B-cycle|
|Indianapolis, IN||$8.00||Indiana Pacers Bike Share|
|Charlotte, NC||$8.00||Charlotte B-cycle|
|Washington DC||$8.00||Capital Bikeshare|
|Las Vegas, NV||$8.00||RTC Bike Share|
|Tucson, AZ||$8.00||Tugo Bike Share|
|Arlington, TX||$8.00||Zagster Bike Share|
|Jackson, WY||$8.00||START Bike|
|Boulder, CO||$8.00||Boulder B-cycle|
|Chattanooga, TN||$8.00||Bike Chattanooga|
|Denver, CO||$9.00||Denver B-cycle|
|Oklahoma City, OK||$9.00||Spokies OKC|
|San Jose, CA||$9.95||Ford Go Bike|
|San Francisco, CA||$9.95||Ford GoBike|
|Boston, MA||$10.00||Blue Bikes|
|Colorado Springs, CO||$10.00||PikeRide Works|
|Oakland, CA||$10.00||Ford Go Bike|
|Tulsa, OK||$10.00||This Machine|
|New York, NY||$12.00||Citi Bike|
|San Antonio, TX||$12.00||SWell Cycle|
|Austin, TX||$12.00||Austin B-cycle|
|Chicago, IL||$15.00||Divvy Bikes|
|Albuquerque, NM**||$16.00||Pace Bikes|
|San Diego, CA||$24.00||Discover Bike|
|Wichita, KS**||$24.00||Bike Share ICT|
|Atlanta, GA**||$25.00||Relay Bike Share|
|Phoenix, AZ**||$25.00||Grid Bike Share|
|Mesa, AZ**||$25.00||Grid Bike Share|
|Pittsburgh, PA**||$32.00||Healthy Ride|
|Sacramento, CA**||$33.55||Jump Bikes|
|Kansas City, MO||$35.00||Kansas City B-cycle|
|Buffalo, NY**||$37.30||Reddy Bikeshare|
|Memphis, TN**||$40.00||Explore Bike Share|
|Eugene, OR**||$47.50||Peace Health Rides|
|Houston, TX**||$48.00||Houston B-cycle|
|New Orleans, LA**||$53.00||Blue Bikes Nola|
|Long Beach, CA**||$56.00||Long Beach Bike Share|
|Cleveland, OH**||$56.00||UH Bikes|
|Milwaukee, WI**||$64.00||Bublr Bikes|
**does not have a daily pass option.
How did we determine these costs?
For some bike sharing programs, figuring out the total cost of a one-day rental was easy! These were the programs that had one-day rental options. With other programs, it wasn’t quite so simple. These were the places that only had hourly rentals, pay-as-you-go rates, or some combination of the two. Programs that lack a daily pass are marked with a ** symbol.
We decided that we would use an eight-hour time period as our point of comparison. Eight hours is roughly equivalent to a full day of activity, and this would give us a standard measure to use across all the different hourly and pay-as-you programs. If an hourly/pay-as-you-go program has a maximum daily charge, we have used that number to determine the total cost per day.
Here’s an example: Let’s say that your city’s bike share costs $5.00 for one hour, and then $.10 for every minute after that. We would multiply $.10 by 60 minutes, coming out to a cost of $6.00 per hour. So it would be $5.00 for the first hour, and then $6.00 per hour for the seven hours after that. Add it all up, and the cost of your city’s bike share would be $47.00
If it helps, you can think about our eight-hour measurement like it’s the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of this experiment. Just like comparing APR lets you find out the true cost of, say, a payday loan versus a standard personal loan, using an eight-hour day allows us to make an apples-to-apples comparison across bike sharing programs.
One final note: A number of these programs also rent out electrically-assisted bikes as well as e-scooters, and we decided not to include these in our research. These prices reflect almost exclusively the local bike-share programs that are limited to that specific city.
What city has the cheapest one-day bike share?
You probably thought it was Portland. Or Minneapolis. Or Austin. Or Denver. Or really any one of the many crunchy, bike-friendly cities spread across the country.
But you’re wrong. The U.S. city with the cheapest one-day rental is … well, okay, it’s a five-way tie. Not nearly as exciting as having one clear winner, but what are you going to do?
We found five U.S. cities that charge $5.00 for a full-day pass:
- Fargo, ND – Great Rides Bike Share
- Los Angeles, CA – Metro Bike Share
- Nashville, TN – Nashville B-cycle
- Dayton, OH – Link Dayton Bike Share
- Greenville, SC – Greenville B-cycle
In general, the cheapest cities were the ones that had daily rental options, while the most expensive were programs with hourly/pay-as-you-go rates. One important thing to note: Some daily rental passes still limit you to 30 minute or hour-long rides before you have to dock your bike, and then rent it again to continue riding.
Now, granted, you’ll get unlimited shorter rides within that one-day period, but you’ll still need to dock your bike every 30 minutes to 60 minutes or likely incur additional charges. And some also have waiting periods before you can take another bike out.
In short, do your research before using a bike share—especially if you’re a tourist visiting the city in question—and plan your activities accordingly to minimize costs.
What cities have the most expensive one-day bike shares?
As we mentioned in the previous section, the highest costs we found were from bike sharing programs that lacked a daily rental option. In order to rent a bike for one day in these cities, you would simply pay by the hour or pay as you go.
Naturally, that payment structure leads to higher costs. And while many daily pass options still require you to stick to 30 minute or hour-long rides before docking the bike again, those unlimited rides still add up to substantial savings.
If you’re looking to rent a bike for one day (or eight hours), here are the five most expensive cities that we found:
- Milwaukee, WI – Bublr Bikes – $64.00
- Honolulu, HI – Biki – $56.00
- Cleveland, OH – UH Bikes – $56.00
- Long Beach, CA – Long Beach Bike Share – $56.00
- New Orleans, LA – Blue Bikes Nola – $53.00
One thing you’ll want to look for when researching a potential bike share program is whether or not they have a daily maximum charge. It’s almost guaranteed to be much lower than the cost of renting a bike for a full eight hours would be.
And here’s a helpful hack if you’re visiting one of the more expensive cities on this list: Check out the cost of their long-term passes. Even if you end up purchasing a monthly pass and only using it for two days, there’s a good chance that it’ll cost you less money overall. Just remember to cancel any recurring charges!
What’s the average cost of a one-day bike share rental?
Tallying up the 65 bike share programs that we studied nationwide, the mean average cost of a one-day bike share rental is $19.86.
That’s not bad! Eight hours of pedal-powered transportation around your city at a rate of almost $2.50 per hour. And unlike with renting a car (or owning one for that matter), you don’t have to pay anything extra for gas!
If you’re wondering what the most common cost of a bike share is, we’ve also got you covered. It’s $8.00, a price tag shared by a whopping 13 different cities:
- Columbus, OH – CoGo Bike Share
- Fort Worth, TX – Fort Worth B-cycle
- Indianapolis, IN – Indiana Pacers Bike Share
- Charlotte, NC – Charlotte B-cycle
- Washington DC – Capital Bikeshare
- Detroit, MI – MoGo
- Las Vegas, NV – RTC Bike Share
- Tucson, AZ – Tugo Bike Share
- Arlington, TX – Zagster Bike Share
- Jackson, WY – START Bike
- Cincinnati, OH – RedBike
- Boulder, CO – Boulder B-cycle
- Chattanooga, TN – Bike Chattanooga
Is bike sharing the solution for you?
There are many cities across the U.S. where relying on a bike share for full-time transport might not be the most cost-effective solution, especially for local residents. Heck, in some of the cities we mentioned in the previous section, even a tourist might find using Uber and Lyft to be less costly than renting a bike.
But still, there are still tons of places where utilizing a bike share—whether as a tourist or as a resident—will not only a provide you with a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative to using a car, but will add up to some massive money savings as well.
If you have any questions about our study, please feel free to contact us on Facebook and Twitter. If you enjoyed this piece and want to read more stuff just like it, check out these related research and articles from OppLoans:
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