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Park And Pedal; Miami Beach Unlocks Bicycle Sharing Program

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MIAMI BEACH – (CBS4) – Trying to find a parking spot on Miami Beach during a busy weekend night – even on some weekdays can be daunting.

It can be so bad, some drivers opt to turn around and drop their dining and dancing plans altogether.

But now, to ease congestion city officials hope residents and visitors will pedal their way through the city thanks to a new bike-sharing program.

The program is not without its critics.

Some say that at $4 for 30 minutes, $5 for an hour, or $10 for two hours, and a yearly membership of $180, it may be cheaper to buy a bicycle.

But Colby Reese from Deco Bike said owning a bike costs money.

“If you have a nice bike, you have to pay $100 a year maintaining it,” Reese said.

Rental stations were recently installed and will be managed by DecoBike, which was awarded the five-year contract in 2009.

Others say the bicycle stations took out two or three prime parking spaces, but Miami Beach’s parking director has a solution.

“We encourage folks that when you do find a parking space just keep your car there, hop on a bike, run your errands or do whatever you came to Miami Beach to do,” said Saul Frances.

And since there’s no security to keep track of who’s taking the bikes or returning them, what about theft or vandalism?

“Each bike is individually identifiable. They’re micro chipped and have a device in them. So it knows that John Smith took the bike 12:53 p.m. and whether or not he brought it back,” said Reese.

So it seems all the issues are covered. Now time will tell whether Miami’s gas guzzlers will want to get through the busy beach streets on a more eco-friendly set of wheels.

By the end of the summer Miami Beach hopes to have more than 115 bike stations set up throughout the city so finding a station in order to rent a bike will be as easy as riding one.

The company will share revenue with the city. DecoBike will also have an iPhone and Blackberry app that will help users find stations and how many bicycles are available at different stations.

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