Smart bikes to launch in Hoboken

A SoBi bike locked to a municipal rack.

It seems like only yesterday that we learned that the City of Hoboken, NJ would be partnering with Social Bicycles, E3Think, and Bike and Roll NYC to launch a bike share system–and, already, Hoboken has a launch date for June of this year.

While Citi Bike has been getting all the attention these days, what’s happening less than a mile away on the other side of the Hudson is arguably more innovative. Hoboken will be launching the first ever hybrid bike share and bike rental system. The system will feature 50 “smart bikes,” each with its own GPS unit and locking mechanism which allows them to be locked to any serviceable bike rack. (To get a better idea of how the system works, click here.)

Compared to a kiosk-based system like the one being installed across the river, the “smart bikes” require virtually no infrastructure adjustments which makes the systems less imposing on a community and overall implementation much easier. They are also much cheaper–per bike, they cost about one-fifth the price of a traditional kiosk-based system.

Easier and cheaper–why launch anything other than smart bike systems, you wonder? Well, the technology is very new and very unproven in a truly public setting. These types of systems have done well on business and university campuses, however, they remain largely unproven in municipal environments, which tend to be a bit more hostile to pricy technologies put in the public right-of-way. The technology will, thus, be meeting its first true test to see if it can be successfully deployed in other cities once it hits the streets of Hoboken this June.

Learn more about the Social Bicycle technology in our Nuts & Spokes interview with the company’s CEO Ryan Rzepecki.


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