One of the greater curiosities coming out of my short trip to Rome was the seemingly-thriving bikesharing system. I saw dozens of kiosks around the area where we stayed (Trevi Fountain / Campo de Marzio / Via Veneto / La Spagna).
BUT WHERE WERE THE BIKES?!?
Turns out that the original bikesharing company – Roma’n’Bike – folded and was taken over by the government transit company ATAC (which runs the buses and the Metro) on June 3rd. Bikesharing rates were changed, rules were altered, and within a month, most of the bikes disappeared. Blogs like the Italian-language http://bikesharingroma.com are not buying into the idea that this is necessarily theft-related. Based on the terms of the bikeshare, ATAC could charge your credit card 250 Euro within 24 hours of the bike not being returned.
Now perhaps it’s the language barrier or perhaps I’m missing something. Are Rome’s 50-150 bikesharing bikes missing or stolen? Or is the entire program broken? I’ve found few answers online and fewer when I was there.
More background from the Bike-Sharing blog:
The on again off again love affair with bike-sharing in Rome is on again. As of today, June 1, 2009, Roma’n’Bike was taken over by Rome’s Public Transport Company, Azienda Tranvie ed Autobus del Comune di Roma (ATAC) and rechristened, “atac bikesharing.” This odyssey chronicled in this blog: November 15, 2007: Roam around Rome, June 16, 2008 Bon Giorno, Roma and March 14, 2009 Cemusa closes Roma’n’Bike has been played out like a romance novel. Cemusa, the international advertising company is the jilted suitor, Rome’s Mayor, Gianni Alemanno embraces Bike-sharing then gives it the “cold shoulder,” while the citizens of Rome’s efforts to nurture and grow the program have further embellished the story.