Those who use car-sharing services like I-GO and Zipcar are already familiar with the premise: give up ownership and rent a car when you need it, by the hour or by the day.
A new venture is taking that mentality to two wheels, letting people pick up a bike when they need one and drop it off when they're done.
Chicago B-cycle will initially launch with 100 bicycles at six B-stations around the city: the John Hancock Center, Fairbanks & Grand, Daley Plaza, Buckingham Fountain, the Museum Campus and McCormick Place. Additional drop-off centers exist at North Ave. Beach, Navy Pier and Millennium Park.
All it takes is a credit card for a day pass or a B-cycle subscription card. It will cost about $10 an hour for a temporary pass, but the membership significantly reduces the hourly rate and provides the first hour of every ride at no charge.
"Once they try it out, they love it. And people usually convert their day pass to an annual membership," said B-cycle's Deanielle Delean.
The Chicago-based car-sharing service, I-GO, is hoping the program takes off.
"We're working with B-cycle to create a smart card that'll work with I-Go as well as B-cycle, so you can have one card, [for both methods of transport]," said I-GO's Sharon Feigon.
Eventually, the program hopes to expand from downtown Chicago into the city's neighborhoods. But Chicago's famously bike-friendly mayor said Tuesday that there are still some details which need to be worked out.
"You know we have a very active legal system," said Mayor Richard Daley. "We have to be very careful of legal liability at all times and that is one of the most serious obstacles you have to overcome."
Still, he said the bike-sharing service would be a good compliment to the 34 new miles of bike lanes and 2,000 new bike racks the city plans to add this year.
B-cycle will be available through October and again in the spring.