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Bik sharing programs allow riders to pick up a bike at a self-serve station and return it at another station later.

Adam Sledd and his wife, KC, never dreamed of riding bikes through the busy streets of Washington, D.C., until they moved last fall to a neighborhood with bike-sharing stations.

“Suddenly, there were a lot of places closer to us that made sense to get [to] by bike. It was faster than walking, but not practical to drive my car and then have the hassle of finding a parking spot,” says Adam, 31, a program manager at a non-profit that promotes energy efficiency in buildings.

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The Sledds were hesitant to spend money on bikes they might not use regularly or that could get stolen. So they tried the bike-sharing system for a weekend. They were hooked and continued to use the service. An app on their smartphones identifies the closest bike-sharing station and lets them know how many bikes are parked there. “You see things differently in a city while you’re riding … I also like keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. Even though it’s miniscule, it’s better than nothing,” he says.

The Sledds are riding the wave of eco-friendly bike-sharing programs that has been spreading over the past decade and is popular with tourists as an easy means of getting around a new city. European cities paved the way, but U.S. cities are quickly catching up.
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