Environment Transportation Best Bike Share Programs An Eco-friendly Way to Get Around By Kiah Treece Kiah Treece University of Toledo College of Law University of Florida University of Miami Kia Treece is a writer, scientist, and sustainability coach specializing in environmental policy, off-grid living, zero waste, and vegan lifestyle. She holds a J.D. with a certificate in Environmental Law from the University of Toledo. Learn about our editorial process Published February 1, 2021 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Environment Active Automotive Aviation Public Transportation Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. Oscar Wong / Getty Images Our Top Picks Best Overall: Lyft Runner-Up: Lime Best in New York City: Citi Bike Best in Chicago: Divvy Best in Washington, D.C.: Capital Bikeshare Best in Charlotte: Charlotte Joy Rides Best in the Bay Area: Bay Wheels Choosing an alternative to traditional transportation can be an easy and affordable way to reduce your environmental impact. That said, public transportation isn’t always convenient and scooters can make it difficult to carry your belongings. Bike share programs, on the other hand, offer an eco-friendly way to travel to work or explore the city without relying on fossil fuels. To help Treehugger readers find the best bike share programs in their area, we chose platforms that are local and options in a few large markets. Here are our top picks. Best Overall: Lyft Lyft Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: Lyft is our best overall bike share company because its bikes are available in eight major markets, and the platform provides the infrastructure for a number of top, locally-branded bike share companies in those locations. What We Like - Riders can choose from traditional or electric bikes - Available in eight major markets - Existing rideshare users can use the same mobile app What We Don’t Like - Some riders report that the bikes are heavier than regular ones Available in eight markets through a number of individually branded providers, Lyft’s bike share program includes both traditional and electric bicycles that can be accessed through the Lyft mobile app or a number of city-specific apps. Bikes have sturdy aluminum frames, lights and reflectors, a basket, puncture-resistant tires, and built-in brakes that aren’t susceptible to damage from the elements. Lyft Ebikes can travel up to 18 miles per hour, enabling riders to shorten their commute or save time while exploring their city. As with other nationwide bike share programs, Lyft’s pricing varies by location and affiliated platform. That said, it typically costs around $2 to rent a bike for a 30-minute ride, and users are charged an additional per-minute fee (usually about $0.20); some providers charge roughly a $1 unlocking fee and then calculate prices by the minute. Lyft does not advertise day passes or annual memberships through its website, but local providers offer flexible options that can reduce the overall cost of bike sharing while still using the Lyft app. Runner-Up: Lime Lime Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: We chose Lime because it offers riders a user-friendly mobile app and high-quality bikes that make it easier to choose sustainable transportation. What We Like - Features an extremely user-friendly and highly-rated mobile app - Offers discounts to riders who need financial assistance - Bikes can also be reserved through the Uber app What We Don’t Like - The number of current markets where bikes are available is unclear Founded in 2017, Lime is a well-known bike and scooter share company that serves riders in over 50 cities across 26 states in the United States. The number of current bike share markets is unclear, but the offering is expanding. Lime bikes can be reserved using the platform’s user-friendly app or through the Uber app, so it’s a great option for existing rideshare users. Plus, the platform’s mobile app makes it easy to view the battery level of available scooters and Ebikes and see the cost before you ride. In general, Lime bikes cost about $1 to unlock plus a location-specific, per-minute fee. As of January 2021, a bike rental in Washington, D.C. costs roughly $1 to unlock plus $0.32 per minute. The per-minute cost to rent a bike in Austin is about $0.29; Seattle riders pay around $0.36 per minute. Best in New York City: Citi Bike Citi Bike Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: Citi Bike is our top choice for New Yorkers because users can choose from flexible rental options to access more than 14,500 traditional and electric bikes across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Jersey City. What We Like - Rental options for single rides, day passes, and annual memberships - Wide variety of locations - Offers traditional and electric bikes What We Don’t Like - Some users report unhelpful customer support - Difficult to go on longer trips because of the time limit and additional fees Provided by Lyft, Citi Bike offers traditional and electric bike rentals across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Jersey City. The bike share company has more than 14,500 bikes located at 950 stations, and a user-friendly mobile app that makes it easy to find an available bike and conveniently return it when you’re finished. Bikes are provided through Lyft, and feature the same sturdy aluminum construction, basket, and weather-proof brakes. Riders can choose from single rides for about $3 per trip (up to 30 minutes), with additional time charged at $0.15 per minute. Day passes are available for unlimited 30-minute rides in a 24-hour period for about $15 ($4 per additional 15 minutes), and an annual membership that costs around $15 per month ($179 billed upfront) for unlimited 45-minute rides ($0.15 per additional minute). Users can also upgrade from a classic bike to an Ebike for roughly an extra $0.15 per minute for single rides and day passes, and approximately $0.10 per minute for annual passholders. Best in Chicago: Divvy Divvy Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: In addition to offering flexible membership options with long ride times, Divvy is our top pick in Chicago because of the large number of bikes and helpful ride guides for visitors and residents alike. What We Like - Day passes include unlimited three-hour rides—longer than most other providers - Provides suggested bike routes with applicable Divvy stations and popular attractions What We Don’t Like - Some users report difficulty finding open docks for dropping off bikes - Customers need to be aware of additional fees for long trips Divvy is a Lyft-powered bike share company that services Chicago with more than 600 stations and over 6,000 bikes. As with Citi Bikes in New York, Divvy riders can take advantage of the same high-quality traditional and electric bikes offered by Lyft. And, as a local vendor, Divvy provides riders route ideas and corresponding Divvy stations—plus sightseeing recommendations for visitors. Divvy offers daily, annual, and per-ride pricing. Single rides cost about $3.30 per 30-minute trip, a day pass is roughly $15 for unlimited three-hour rides in a 24-hour period, and the annual membership costs approximately $9 per month ($108 upfront payment) for unlimited 45-minute rides. Additional time costs about $0.15 per minute. Ebike pricing varies by zone within the city but ranges from roughly an extra $0.05 to $0.20 per minute. Best in Washington, D.C.: Capital Bikeshare Capital Bikeshare Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: Capital Bikeshare made our list for the best bike share company in Washington, D.C. due to a large number of available bikes, conveniently located stations, and the ability to get a money-saving three-day pass. What We Like - Bike stations extend beyond Washington to surrounding areas like Arlington and Alexandria - Riders report there are docking stations near every major attraction - Annual pass is less expensive than in other cities that use the Lyft platform What We Don’t Like - Riders report that prices balloon quickly after a 30-minute base ride - Some reviews reflect issues with customer support Also offered through Lyft, Capital Bikeshare lets riders access more than 4,500 bikes at upwards of 500 stations across Washington, D.C.; Arlington, VA; Alexandria, VA; Montgomery, MD; Prince George’s County, MD; Fairfax County, VA; and the City of Falls Church, VA. And, like other Lyft-backed bike shares, Capital Bikeshare provides riders with a number of popular routes so visitors can conveniently travel between the most popular attractions. Riders can take a single trip up to 30 minutes for about $2 plus $2 for every additional 30 minutes. As in other cities, daily passes are available for roughly $8 for a 24-hour pass or $17 for a three-day pass, including unlimited trips under 30 minutes ($2 for every additional 30 minutes). Finally, an annual pass is available for around $7 per month (billed annually at $85) for unlimited 30-minute rides ($1.50 for an additional 30 minutes), or users can pay roughly $28 month to month. Ebike rentals are also available for an additional $1 per ride. Best in Charlotte: Charlotte Joy Rides Charlotte Joy Rides Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: Charlotte Joy Rides stands out in Charlotte, NC due to the company’s large selection of high-quality, electric-assist bikes and daily passes that offer unlimited rides with no required docking. What We Like - All bikes have electric assist up to 15 miles per hour - Bikes are spread out across more than 30 stations - Day pass doesn’t require riders to dock, so there are no additional fees for long rides What We Don’t Like - Daily passes are pricey but include unlimited ride times Charlotte Joy Rides is a non-profit bike share system that provides local riders and visitors access to more than 340 bikes across 34 stations throughout Charlotte’s City Center. Though not offered through a larger rideshare platform like Lyft, Charlotte Joy Rides has an iPhone and Android app that lets users check bike locations and availability. What’s more, all of Charlotte Joy Rides’ bikes have an electric assist, so riders don’t have to calculate additional fees for an Ebike. Flash Passes are available for about $5 per 30-minute ride. Riders can also opt for a Joy Pass, which costs around $30 for unlimited rides (and no required docking) for a 24-hour period. A monthly membership costs roughly $50 per month and an annual membership is around $150 per year; each includes unlimited one-hour rides with approximately a $1 charge for each additional 30 minutes. Annual and student members are also eligible to receive a free helmet. Best in the Bay Area: Bay Wheels Bay Wheels Sign Up Now Why We Chose It: Our top choice for the Bay Area due to its convenience and accessibility, Bay Wheels features more than 400 docking stations and thousands of bikes that can be rented directly through the Lyft app. What We Like - Traditional and electric bikes are available in San Francisco, East Bay, and San Jose - Riders can choose from more than 400 pick-up and docking stations - Low-income residents can qualify for discounts What We Don’t Like - Additional per-minute charges can add up quickly for rides longer than 30 minutes Like many other options on our list, Bay Wheels is a bike share service provided through Lyft that offers both classic and electric bikes. Riders can pick-up and drop off bikes at almost 400 stations across the San Francisco, East Bay, and San Jose areas. Bay Wheels does not have its own app, but users can locate and rent a bike through the Lyft app, making it a great option for existing users of the rideshare service. Bay Wheels riders pay about $2 per 30-minute ride for classic bikes, with an additional $0.20 per minute charge for electric bikes. Users can also opt for an annual membership for roughly $13 per month ($149 billed annually) that includes unlimited 45-minute classic rides, a 25% savings on Ebike rides, and no unlocking fee. Low-income residents can also qualify for a discounted membership. Final Verdict For those trying to reduce their carbon footprint, alternative modes of transportation like bikes and Ebikes can be an effective way to break dependence on fossil fuels while shortening commutes. Bike share programs also offer visitors and tourists the opportunity to explore new places without having to rely on a rental car, cab, or public transportation. Our overall best bike share program, Lyft, stands out because it partners with a number of location-specific vendors to offer high-quality equipment through an easy to use mobile app. Because the bikes are offered through a large, nationwide rideshare provider, prices are competitive (though they still vary by location), and bikes are reliable and accessible. What Are Bike Share Programs? Bike share programs are national and city-specific platforms that provide a low-cost, flexible, and sustainable alternative to cars and public transportation. Usually offering both electric and traditional bikes, these companies have docking stations and bikes located across more populated urban areas where demand is highest. Residents and visitors alike can locate and reserve the bikes using an app and then drop them off when their ride is over. How Much Does Bike Sharing Cost? The cost of bike sharing varies by platform and city. In general, though, bike share programs charge about $2 for a single 30-minute ride and around $0.20 for each additional minute. The best bike share programs also offer day passes (usually arbout $8 to $15) and annual memberships (often up to roughly $150) for frequent riders. Where Are Bike Share Programs Available? Bike share programs are available nationwide, but tend to be location-specific. For this reason, there are not as many nationwide providers as there are for scooter sharing and ridesharing platforms. Still, there are a number of bike share programs that service multiple larger markets. How We Chose the Best Bike Share Programs To identify the best bike share programs for Treehugger readers, we assessed more than 15 providers based on factors like equipment quality and selection, customer reviews, number of available bikes and docking stations, and cost. We also evaluated whether each platform offers multiple membership options, and how past and current riders rate the service.