Bike sharing systems
Cities that want to implement bike sharing systems within their communities do usually face various challenges and barriers that might impede their project. To overcome social and behavioural challenges like the general lack of awareness concerning bike sharing, cities have to spark their citizens’ interest for the topic. This undertaking should not be underestimated since the majority of citizens will use cars for means of transport. But also enthusiastic cyclists need to be convinced to use a sharing system instead of buying or riding their own bikes.
After all, the long term involvement of the citizens will be crucial for the project’s success and should therefore be strongly pursued. Once people have accepted the concept, security aspects like the location of bicycle lanes (shielded from traffic or not) or the idea of wearing helmets come to the fore and will affect the overall arrangement of the bike sharing system. To learn more on how to engage citizens, have a look at the Citizen Engagement page.
Financing can also become an obstacle as cities need to define their individual business case (e.g. the length of free renting time, the hourly price, the critical mass needed). Next, shaping the regulatory framework that encompasses the availability of space and public land for use allocation. Last but not least, also the governance might face specific challenges: the administrative burden involved in the project might hinder an easy implementation of the development plan. Moreover, the integration of a bike sharing system does not only need commitment from the city itself but does also require the consultation of neighbouring cities and their public transport systems (e.g. with local bus cards).
The described challenges can be addressed with a range of recommendations. To ensure the safety and comfort of cyclists, the reduction of speed limits for cars of course is an important factor. Also fast-track planning and permitting processes can be considered as policy recommendations.
To provide more incentives for users, cities could also offer the service at a low price. European cities like Valencia (18 €/year) and Cologne (free of charge) are leading role models here. To make the project even more appealing, cyclists could also profit from intermodal tickets and smart parking which incorporates the flexibility to leave the bike (instead of having to bring it back to the starting point). Also the use of digital devices like apps, virtual temporary stations, and making data available in real time can be beneficial.
Further impulses can be set via the involvement of citizens in the strategic planning and improvement process of bicycle lane networks. Ultimately, cities should start with small pilot projects before scaling up and should learn from other projects around bike sharing systems. Afterwards, these systems can be incorporated in broader urban planning and regeneration initiatives.
Plans for Implementation
Cities should set up a sustainable mobility plan (SUMP) if they have not done yet. They can include bicycle lanes and the bike sharing system in their integrated plan for urban development and regeneration (provided that citizens are persuaded to take up this solution).
Moreover, cities can enhance the e-bike sharing system by integrating other shared systems (e.g. e-scooters). Furthermore, they should move mobile stations to be in line with their new master plan. They might also take a closer look at free floating solutions, which include for example the permission to leave the bike anywhere, as well as driving and safety regulations. Concluding, they should share their experiences with other cities.