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Bike share programs are becoming quite widespread throughout Europe and North America with a few now starting up in Asia, the Middle East and South America. From an article I found on BBC Travel, there were over 300 in 2011. This is the Vel’oh! system in Luxembourg City, which started in March 2008 making it one of the earliest programs in the world.
So how does bike sharing work? In most cities, visitors can purchase short-term subscriptions at bike stations themselves. Just walk up to a station’s electronic kiosk, choose the duration for which you need access to the service, and swipe your credit card. You will receive an unlocking code which you can then use to release a bike from the docking station. Then you can start exploring the city via bicycle. When you reach your destination, find a nearby station and return your bike. Make sure to lock the bike carefully by pushing the front wheel into an empty dock. Long-term subscriptions can usually be purchased online. During the time of your subscription (however short or long), you can rent and return a bike as many times as you want.
Bike Share stations, like this one in Luxembourg City, provide interesting photographic subjects because the bikes usually have a bright livery and the way they are stored gives perfect repeating patterns.