Maybe you live in downtown West Palm Beach. Maybe you work here. Or, let’s say you’re visiting for a winter weekend, a business trip, or the entire winter season. Whatever brings you here, you have got to try SkyBike, the city’s awesome rent-a-bike program. Hopefully, this Skybike review will help you out.
It’s nothing like the traditional bike rental shops that you see in beach towns; you don’t have to first find a ride to the bike shop and then choose a daily or weekly rental.
This bike share program allows you to pay for as little as 30 minutes of bike use starting at only $3. You pay and pedal at any of 16 unattended hubs or docking stations throughout the downtown area, and you drop it back off at the same or a different hub when you’re done.
You do need a credit card or debit card, and that makes it not-so-great for kids or people who only have cash, but you can link your card to the program’s cell phone app or website.
SkyBike is now at 16 docking stations, each with as many as a dozen bikes available. Stations are located in several key spots, like all along Clematis Street, by City Hall, and near the Hilton and Hyatt hotels. Hubs are all west of the Intracoastal Waterway, of course, but that shouldn’t keep you from cycling across the bridge to Palm Beach to visit the shops and ocean.
Here’s Our Skybike Review of the Top 5 Things You Need To Know
- If you think you’ll be a one-time or occasional user, you can bypass the website and user account creation. Instead, just go to a kiosk, pay on site with your credit or debit card, and push off. If you have trouble, call customer service (561-412-1643), and they’ll help.
- The station map can tell you in real time how many bikes are available at each hub, so you don’t arrive ready to rent, only to face an empty bike rack.
- Think you’ll treat SkyBike as your bike-away-from-home-bike, the one you’ll want to use for regular in-town commuting, errands, or a little exercise? Then you’ll want a membership, which is $120 a year and allows unlimited 45-minute trips. Start by setting up an account, then purchase your membership.
- Account initiation is super quick but requires you to fund it with an initial balance of $1. SkyBike also has reduced-price accounts for students.
- You’ll want to follow SkyBike on Twitter @SkyBikeWPB, because that’s how you’ll get access to promo codes and other updates. The SkyBike website is good for account login and the station map, but it’s pretty basic overall.
If you’re a regular traveler for business or pleasure, your account works at partner locations in multiple cities in the U.S. and around the world. SkyBike is operated by NextBike, available in more than 100 cities in 18 countries—New Zealand, Italy, India, Latvia, Turkey….
SkyBike is a great addition to our city and a real convenience, especially if you want to bypass downtown West Palm Beach traffic, avoid parking, and travel short distances fast. Plus, it’s perfect for people whose own bike is at home, as well as for tourists who want to cycle to local sites, the beach, shopping, and restaurants.
Although West Palm wasn’t an early adopter of bike sharing programs, since 2015, it’s been part of what’s really an international shift to bring affordable, environmentally sustainable, convenient transportation to people in large and small cities nearly everywhere.
Of 120-plus such ventures in the continental U.S., N.Y. (645 hubs or docking stations and thousands of bikes), Chicago, and D.C. are the largest. Oddly, Topeka, K.S. is the seventh largest, and the smallest is tied between Charleston, S.C., and Clarksville, Tenn. The largest worldwide? No, it’s not Paris, London, Copenhagen, or any other European city that loves both biking and tourists, but Hangzhou, China, population 7 million, which has about 78,000 bicycles and 2,700 docking stations.
You can check out the state of bike sharing worldwide, here, and maybe even plan your next trip to someplace where you can see the sites and get exercise and contribute to saving the planet, just by using bike share.
The modern era of bike sharing programs is more than a decade old; the first large-scale program was launched in the nation’s capital in 2010. One can just imagine how the lives of harried, low-level staffers were improved, once they could hop on bikes to do all their daily coffee fetching, document delivering, and meeting attending at far-flung government buildings. And, all of us who’ve been tourists in D.C. can smile at the thought of easily shuttling among museums, monuments, and hotels using bike share.
And a final fun fact: Modern bike shares use docking stations, credit cards, and apps, but they were briefly preceded by totally free ride experiments in places like Minneapolis.
There, the city’s alternative grassroots organized a low-budget Yellow Bike program in the mid-1990s, based on principles of sharing and trust. All of Yellow Bike’s cycles were donated, old, and painted a garish yellow, but that didn’t protect them from being quickly vandalized, lost, or stolen—along with, one imagines, the youthful idealism of the program’s founders.
If something goes wrong while you are enjoying your Skybike ride, please feel free to contact Bill Bone Bike Law so we can assist you with any cycling related questions
Share with us in the comments below what you liked or didn’t like about your Skybike experience. Let us know and we will add it to our Skybike Review!