December 16, 2019

The Evolution of Bike Sharing

World Resources Institute

Providing decision makers at the city level with tools to assess the adoption and implementation of bike-sharing initiatives.

This working paper is not designed to be a comprehensive guide to bike-sharing implementation, nor is it meant to provide prescriptive recommendations; but it offers questions and answers objectively in order to assist city officials to navigate through the recent developments and innovations of new and improved technologies, data, and business models relating to bike sharing. The emergence of new technologies, including dockless and electric bikes, is creating new opportunities, so much so as to raise the interest and risk concerns of city officials around the world. This publication aims to shed light on these.

The main key findings in this report are:

  • Bicycle-sharing schemes (BSSs) are experiencing a major breakthrough in cities at a global scale. Of the estimated 1,600 schemes in operation in 2017, approximately 95 percent were launched since 2007, with more than 200 in 2017 alone. Recent technological transformations and innovations are dramatically reshaping our cities and increasing their options to introduce and manage bike-sharing services as a new mode of transport.
  • The rapid evolution of technological advancements in BSSs, such as dockless bike-sharing schemes, electric bicycles, and increased private sector involvement, are prompting cities to ensure that legislation and regulations are in place to adequately safeguard the efficiency and safety of this mobility option.
  • To ensure a safe and sustainably integrated urban mobility network including a BSS, it is essential for local governments and bike-sharing operators to work together.
  • The role of public-private partnerships can be important in any public mobility service, particularly in terms of bike sharing. City administrators and private entities must work together to develop appropriate legislation, provide adequate infrastructure, and manage the operation and maintenance of the service.
  • To ensure success, the key factors are the scale of and access to BSSs, whereby bike sharing should be at a scale that corresponds to the size of the city and is easily accessible to achieve ridership.

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