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You may have read about the following elsewhere, but it is worth sharing here, too. Our friend Frederick sent a link to an article on Wired’s site about a novel concept in city bike-sharing setups. This one is from a startup in New York City called Social Bicycles (SoBi) and operates without dedicated kiosks or other infrastructure, and at a fraction of the per-bike cost of other bike-sharing schemes like Velib or B-Cycle. And, it has some really cool features that make the setup eminently user-friendly.

From Wired’s article:

SoBi doesn’t use cycle stations; the bikes are parked throughout the city (starting in New York) at regular racks. Bikes could, in fact, be anywhere at any given time, not just at a designated station that could be blocks away. Users can grab any bike that isn’t already reserved and drop it off anywhere. No need to search for a drop-off station.

Like a Zipcar, each SoBi bike has its own “lockbox? (shown above) that communicates wirelessly with SoBi servers via GPS and a cellular receiver (an H-24 module from Motorola). When you make a reservation online or via smartphone, a map displays all the bikes in the area and gives you the option of unlocking a specific bike by clicking on it.

Read the full article by visiting Wired.

If this scheme is successful, such technology and the relative ease of the setup may encourage other cities to try their hand at bike-sharing.