Some time ago, we featured Denver's B-Cycle bikesharing program. Today, we are looking at an innovative twist on the traditional bikesharing model. SoBi, The Social Bicycle System, is a minimalist public bikesharing concept powered by mobile social technology.
The system uses a wireless device that attaches to the back of any bike, serving as a lock, GPS unit and bike computer all in one. Bikes can be locked to any regular public bike rack and a mobile app allows users to locate available bikes nearby.
SoBi offers a promising solution to two of bike-sharing's greatest obstacles: The dependency on fleets and rental stations, and the high cost of implementation. With no special bikes or rack needed, the SoBi system comes at roughly a third of the cost of traditional models and, with healthy adoption rates, has the potential of turning a city's entire bike population into a shared fleet.
A lock box design is currently being prototyped and will be pilot-tested in New York this fall.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.