Wireless Social Bicycling Hits NY
While writing this post I have come to realize two things: (1) if it isn’t wireless, social or mobile, it doesn’t exist and (2) I have difficulty spealing the word “bicycling” (don’t know why – just one of those things).
Ryan Rzepecki (a for NYC Department of Transportation employee) understands my first realization very well (the second, not so much). Rzepecki is the founder of SoBi (as in social bicycling) (a wireless bike-sharing system). SoBi allows customers to rent bikes by mobile phone or a kiosk which uses a wireless system that tracks, finds and unlocks bicycles using a smartphone app(completeling eliminating the eyesore, space-consuming bike racks usually associated with bike-sharing). Think of it as ZIP-car for bicycles.
According to GovTech.com, The City of New York has awarded Social Bicycle a contract to make New York a more bicycle-friendly place by allowing the startup to launch a test pilot with 20 bike by the end of the year (presumably before Winter).
Anyone who lives in an urban environment has, by now, asked themselves, “What about the thieves?” Bicycle theft is a way of life for certain criminals in the big city (with top-of-the-line bikes fetching hundreds of dollars on the “market”). Rzepecki thinks he’s solved the problem of securing standalone bikes on city streets:
“Any lock can be defeated with the right tools, but you want to make it as difficult as possible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and with the right tools, there’s a way,” he said. “But with GPS tracking and the social system around it, we can limit [theft].”
Rzepecki has already been tapped by other cities and universities across the country to introduce SoBi to their citizens and students. Being the first to create a model that seems solid (obvious problems aside) and gaining traction on potential competitors by landing deals with major cities across the country, it looks like Rzepecki could be the next startup superstar on the block. What say you?