Bike sharing systems has received considerable attention as a sustainable mode of transportation to meet the increasing travel demand of urban residents.1 It is a cost-effective substitute for buses and shuttles and a versatile and environmentally friendly mode of ‘last-mile’ transportation for students, staff, and employees. It can be used to link essential destinations like parking lots or public transportation stops to central places, or it can be utilized to help students move on and off-campus more easily. Unlike shuttle services, bike sharing can be accessed at any time.2 Either docked or dockless, bike share programs are typically now supported with technology that facilitates rental payment and monitoring/maintenance of the bicycles.3
Implementing bike sharing programs can potentially reduce transportation emissions and urban noise levels by encouraging more individuals to switch from cars to bikes. Although the impact on vehicle emissions for bike share systems alone is minimal, this solution can be combined with other approaches—such as constructing safe bicycle infrastructure—to prompt users to ditch their personal vehicles.4 Additionally, zero-emitting, electrically assisted bikes can help individuals lessen their carbon footprint by not contributing to overall urban pollution.5
How it Helps
Growth in bike share was dramatic in the first part of the 21st century, expanding from five programs operating in five countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Portugal) with a total fleet of 4,000 bicycles. By 2014, there were an estimated 375 bicycle-sharing programs operating in 33 countries in almost every region of the world using around 236,000 bicycles.3
Determining where to place bike sharing stations within a city is one of main concerns when implementing this type of program. Bike share stations should be located in convenient areas with adequate bicycle paths where there is a high level of need for alternative modes of transportation.8 The stations should be close enough to a range of commuter destinations to meet travel demands. Bike share stations should also be concentrated in areas with high populations of households with no car, such as younger people or low-income families.
Bike sharing programs should also consider utilizing ‘smart’ bikes that can be unlocked with cell phones and have active GPS systems to give detailed rider data and track lost bikes. This can increase usage and make the program easier to sustain and grow. Powering stations will also be needed to power these bikes for better efficiency. Both operationally and environmentally, solar-powered stations are the most cost-effective, efficient and sustainable.9
Bike sharing systems can be an important element of a city’s transport infrastructure and are relatively cheap to implement. There are a multitude of financing and funding options available. It is not necessary to resort to public investment or subsidies, as private sector companies can cover both the capital and operating costs of a bike-sharing system. Funds can be provided by private individuals or companies, and grants can also be awarded by local transportation authorities, municipal governments, or private companies.
Bike sharing tends to be quick and inexpensive to implement. Barriers to implementation, however, include theft and vandalism of the bicycles.3 Helmet requirements were also seen as a barrier for some years. However, making helmets available for purchase at a nearby vending machine may help users increase helmet wearing and use of the system.
1) Nice Ride Minneapolis Bike Share Program
The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota has a bike share program called Nice Ride which allows users to pay a monthly fee to have access to unlimited 45-minute bike rides. Members just need to find an available bike at a nearby station and scan a QR code to unlock the bike. Users also have the option to purchase a membership plan that combines Nice Ride and Lyft.
2) Citi Bike New York Bike Share Program
New York City’s bike share program, Citi Bike, allows users to pay a monthly or yearly fee to have access to unlimited 45-minute bike rides. It also offers a membership option to combine Citi Bike, Grubhub, and Lyft benefits.
3) Bicing Bike Share Company
Bicing is a bike-sharing company in Barcelona that produces approximately 6,300 mechanical and electrical bicycles made available to the target population. Bicing intends to provide easy access to bicycles to the targeted population, allowing them to travel quickly and comfortably without encountering traffic congestion. Bicing is fully linked to the city’s transportation infrastructure and is simple to combine with other public transportation options.
4) Bikshare Article by Treehugger
Treehugger lists the following bikeshare companies as best in the US for 2022:
Best Overall: Lyft
Best in New York City: Citi Bike
Best in Chicago: Divvy
Best in Washington, D.C.: Capital Bikeshare
Best in Charlotte: Charlotte Joy Rides
Best in the Bay Area: Bay Wheels