Alison Cohen, the president of Alta Bicycle Share, intends to make inroads in the market where she lives.
That would be Philadelphia.
“It’s similar to car sharing, except that you can do one-way trips,” she said of her company’s service. “So in car sharing, typically you have a membership and you take the car back to that same spot. With bike sharing it’s similar, but we implement a full network of stations so that you can ride on short trips from one place to another.” Her company already is in operation in Washington, D.C., Seattle, and even Melbourne, Australia. She said it’s a perfect fit for a dense, populous city like Philly where people already rely on public transportation. And she would know—not only does she live here, she bases her company here. “Someone comes in to 30th Street Station. Takes a bike from a station there, rides over to Penn. It’s a good 15-minute walk, but really a five-minute bike ride,” she said. “It’s those kinds of rides that are really, really useful for bike share systems.” Another reason it works, she said, is that it takes all the headaches out of bike ownership–the storage, the flat tires, the dirty hands that result from chain-fixing. But the real opportunity here, Cohen says, is getting people who haven’t biked since childhood back on the seat. Because, you know, you never forget how.