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Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility

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articles - 14 Nov 2017

Bike share: reaching people who could cycle, but don’t

Mobility Matters 11 November 2016 The bicycle is an incredible invention. It’s a social leveller, the second cheapest mode (after walking), leads to healthier people and cuts congestion and emissions. There are also still far more bikes in the world than cars. Rather than being displaced by the internal combustion engine, the humble bike is busy reinventing itself as an increasingly important component of future travel and future lifestyles.  
  Whilst there must be access for those who cannot walk or cycle, active travel has to be top of the list for planning local access. This year has seen the Government publish its Value of Cycling report, and the draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. The case for cycling has never been better made.   But cycling is not one uniform activity. There are distinct bike-related cultures in the UK. People riding bikes as utility vehicles and the lycra-clad cycling devotee. From a professional point of view, they seem more like separate species linked at the bike-shaped genus level – maybe cyclum communalis vs cyclum individualis.   How do we reach out to those who might cycle, but don’t? Or those who don’t consider it an option, but could? In short, how do we cultivate the delicate flower that is cyclum communalis or, in transport speak, encourage a modal shift to cycling?   Bike share is an important tool for reaching this group. It consists of mainly public bike hire schemes such as those in London, Liverpool and Glasgow, and also includes bike pools in workplaces or communities and bike hire from rail stations.   A key market for public bike share schemes is people making first or last-mile links with public transport hubs. Many of these people have one or more bikes at home, but they either do not want or can’t use their own bikes for these journeys. This alone probably justifies public bike hire becoming a norm in all urban areas.   Public bike share also reaches a different demographic: people who might cycle but don’t. The most recent research for Transport for London shows that 38% of users were prompted to start cycling by Santander Cycles.   Giving people the option of an electric bike opens access to bikes further. This is not a new idea. Bike share and electric bikes (plus leisure cycling) were all recognised as significant agents in expanding the reach of cycling through the DfT’s Cycle Demonstration Towns, in the latter stages of Cycling England’s work and through the initial results from the Finding New Solutions programme.   Both bike share and electric bikes remove significant known barriers to cycling. Bike share provides access to bikes with no commitment or need for investment or maintenance. Electric-assist bikes ‘iron out’ hills, encourage novice cyclists to give cycling a go, as well as encouraging cycling for longer distances. Whilst these benefits are concrete and obvious, their real value is more subtle and is reflected in the joyful reactions as people try an electric-assist bike for the first time.   The anecdotes are supported by the initial findings of the DfT-funded Shared Electric Bike Programme to be published shortly. In addition, the recent Cycleboom project shows impressive physical and mental health impacts of older people using electric bikes. This highlights an otherwise elusive win; health benefits in a non-traditional cycling user group. In short, people riding electric bikes without having to purchase one were happier and healthier. Scaling this up by making electric bikes available through various bikeshare models would be incredibly simple to do.   A big challenge in “cycling” is in normalising it in the public mind. This requires a change in people’s attitudes to cycling – which we are seeing happening – and then this translating to a shift in individual’s behaviours.   For bike share, it requires planners, policy-makers, advisers, fleet managers and communities to be aware of what’s possible, how to make it work and what the impacts are likely to be. It also requires some re-framing of language and approach – it’s about investing in health benefits, accessibility, social inclusion and reductions in congestion and emissions rather than subsidising a bike hire scheme.  
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Shared Bikes News - 8 Nov 2017

Coalition of bike share operators outline a vision for good working practices

  This letter is from a broad coalition of the main bike share operators with interests in the UK, moderated by Bikeplus 6th November 2017  

Creating Successful Public Bike Share

  Dear All   There have been dramatic changes in the public bike share world in 2017. Opportunities have been opened up due to the arrival of privately financed operators from the Far East and Europe coupled with the development of new technology allowing for greater flexibility. These lead to opportunities for an expansion of bike share in the UK with faster deployment. Furthermore, the option to provide bike share schemes to a city without the need for capital expenditure has brought into question the need for formal tendering processes. Avoiding lengthy expensive procurement is welcomed on all sides but raises the question of what replaces it.   This makes city-scale bike share an affordable, rapidly deliverable part of the solution to key urban policy objectives including air quality improvement, access and accessibility, congestion reduction and health improvement. Bikeplus is as an independent charity working to maximise the benefits of bike share schemes. Bikeplus hosts an Operators and Suppliers Group to facilitate joint initiatives and promote best practice.   With the aim of setting high standards the group has collated a set of recommendations for cities to consider when developing public bike share. These stem from the extensive expertise built by operators dealing with city authorities around the world, moderated and co-ordinated by Bikeplus to provide commercially impartial guidance.  
  The group recommend:
  1. Regulation: The Group strongly recommends there is a need for regulation rather than individual city guidelines. It is suggested that the Bikeplus Accreditation Scheme is adopted as a UK-wide streamlined, consistent standard to inform the selection of operators. The scheme has been developed with extensive consultation with public and private sector bodies and has the advantage compared to Codes of Conduct of providing third-party proactive scrutiny.

Bike share Accreditation Scheme

  1. Transparent Competitive Process: Where funding is being offering a tender process will be required, however where a scheme is being privately financed the Group recommends that Cities move from the use of a full tender to a simpler “Request for Proposals” where all operators are invited to outline what they could offer towards a set of requirements to a defined open timetable. Alternatively, a licensing system could be adopted to select who can operate in the area particularly where attracting more than one operator is desirable.
  1. Licencing multiple operators:
  • The group recommends the use of licensing where an authority is considering allowing more than one operator;
  • It is recommended that licences should include reference to the need for Bikeplus Accreditation;
  • The group recommends that careful consideration is given to the inclusion of more than two operators in cities of less than 150,000 population or three operators in cities  greater than 150,000 population unless there is a strong differentiation in service;
  • The group recommends that revenue from licensing is ringfenced for reinvestment in cycling initiatives such as supporting social inclusion and safer cycling initiatives;
  • Bikeplus can provide examples of licensing agreements to support cities
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articles - 25 Oct 2017

Mobility as a Service – why people are just getting on with it, writes Alistair Kirkbride

Going to conferences is a bit like going on holiday. You try to work out how it’s going to unfold and what it’ll be like by reading blurb, but it’s the sense that emerges that is important to try to capture. My “holiday snaps” from the recent Smarter Travel Live 2017 conference [1] were: bike share is exploding, Local Authorities don’t go to conferences at the moment and MaaS is flexing its muscle as the idea grows and differentiates. Bike share covered several pages in the last LTT [ref], the drought of Local Authority engagement is telling (but of what?), but let’s focus here on the evolution of MaaS.
    Whether MaaS is a platform or a way of thinking was well debated at Wocomoco 2016 [2] and elsewhere. Over the last year, the West Midlands pilot of Whim [3] is demonstrating that it is possible for MaaS to exist in the UK regulatory framework, not that it won’t identify snags that will need some work to resolve. The recent Landor MaaS survey publication demonstrates neatly the differentiation of the core idea of MaaS into multiple scales and contexts. The recent launch of MaaS Scotland [4] shows the rapid shift to a nation-scale swagger of the idea. Perhaps more importantly, MaaS Scotland is almost explicit in not trying to define how it will unfold; this in itself is significant as it demonstrates the wide opportunity for the shaping of future mobility. UITP held a workshop on MaaS at the same time as Smarter Travel Live.   So MaaS is everywhere. Or is it? Let’s look at three aspects that were implicitly on show at ST Live: MaaS defined by outcomes, “Just get on with it” MaaS and “boutique” MaaS.   Firstly, it was refreshing – and somewhat relieving – to hear an increasingly coherent debate about how public benefit needs to define how MaaS unfolds. Like autonomous vehicle development, the sector is asking how pubic benefit will be realised through MaaS, and who will be responsible for delivering the (non-commercial) outcomes. The debate is still live as to the role of the public sector in MaaS development: as the MaaS operator (unlikely) or as the body that sets parameters (via regulation or licensing of some form; desirable but deliverable?). There is an awareness that the public sector having to play catch-up to innovations that head in the wrong direction (such as Uber) is undesirable, and can still be averted. The West Midlands Whim pilot and MaaS Scotland both demonstrate constructive partnerships between the public and private sector who together can help shape the path between innovative idea and useful agent for how people travel. The approaches might be different (a small scale pilot vs a strategic national-scale partnership), but the core idea of mixing what is best about public and private sector approaches and roles is common to both.   What is not yet resolved is a clear understanding of what a MaaS future means in terms of tackling existing social and environmental problems of and related to transport. Like many innovations, MaaS can frame compelling pictures of a better future; realising these will still need some pretty meaty intervention and hard political decisions, as well as the public coming round to the idea of behaving differently. The ITF Transition to Shared Mobility study [5] demonstrated the (modelled) scale of benefits of radical shared mobility in Lisbon on access and environment. More importantly, it also highlighted explicitly what would be necessary to realise the benefits. This has not yet been done for MaaS.   The second MaaS development – spelt out in the Landor MaaS survey – was more of a realisation of “just getting on with it”. There was a quip at Smarter Travel Live that if we waited to get all of our ducks in a row on MaaS, they would be swept away by the Next Big Thing. As the idea of MaaS has emerged, there has been a sense that we were going to have to wait for something(s) to happen before MaaS would be a reality. This might have involved city-wide co-ordination or vision, the realisation of bottom-line benefit among operators or the confidence among MaaS advocates that the public was ready for it. There has perhaps also been an implicit sense that MaaS needed to be “MaaS-pure” – the idea of a mobility account that really is competitive with car ownership in terms of cost and convenience. Waiting for utopia can be at best stifling, and worse used as a mandate to not do anything. Just getting on with it is the license to work within and towards the idea of MaaS, but not to be constrained by MaaS-pure.   “Just getting on with it” can mean many things. The West Midlands WhimApp pilot shows that with the following wind of a committed local public sector, “pure” MaaS can be realised in the UK, if on a small initial scale. Landor’s annual survey of MaaS included examples of where mobility accounts can work fairly easily in a variety of closed contexts such as workplaces. Indeed, shifting to MaaS-type mobility accounts for employee travel provides a new set of opportunities to maximise reductions in environmental impacts of travel choices.    
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Shared Bikes News - 10 Oct 2017

Future of UK Bike Share Conference Presentations

Presentations from the speakers at the Bikeplus 2nd Annual Conference

For copies of the presentations please email

Day One   Bikeplus Survey Results 2017 Antonia Roberts, Bikeplus Opening Address from Greater Manchester Councillor Chris Paul, Deputy Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester Address from Chris Boardman Keynote Opening - Is the future shared? Ed Gillespie, Futerra  

      Trends in bike share from North America  Aaron Ritz, NABSA, Better Bike Share Partnership & City of Philadelphia          

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articles - 17 Aug 2017

The end of diesel & petrol cars? What about changing mobility? Writes Alistair Kirkbride

  Last week, the press was aflutter with the headline grabbing announcement of the demise of not just diesel cars, but petrol by 2040 to help tackle the UKs air quality problems. This might be great for all sorts of reasons – if a little late – but will the lights stay on? And is this the right way of looking at the urgency of today’s urban air quality crisis anyway?   The Government’s announcement continues the near-fetishism with car ownership, perhaps wrapped this time in the Industrial Strategy, but always in denial of developing a modern mobility system that fits the 21st century that is not based around the flawed 20th century idea of car ownership. Mobility matters (to coin a phrase).    
  But let’s consider this first in terms of the gritty pragmatism of whether it’s even possible to electrify all car travel anyway. Even with the grid getting smarter and generation becoming localised, there are serious misgivings about adding a whole new sector (car travel) to an already strained electricity and distribution network. While the National Grid in its Future Energy Scenarios 2017 [1] suggests that the projected growth in EVs is (just?) possible in terms of impact on generation and distribution, this was before the announcements of no petrol or diesel cars after 2040. Serious misgivings have been voiced elsewhere – such as Green Alliance’s ‘People Power – How consumer choice is changing the UK energy system’ [2] on peak loading and the impacts of EV charging clustering leading to “brownouts”, all of which points to the need for some pretty serious upgrading of the grid to accommodate the proposed numbers of EVs.   Smart grids, targeted upgrading and the use of storage (including in EV batteries) to manage peaks are all possible and compelling, but do we need to take this approach? If access to clean electricity is likely to be limited, then the shift to EVs should be in city centres in shared contexts in order to tackle immediate air quality problems.   If we step back and consider what we are trying to achieve, then my question is whether we are taking seriously the potential of new mobility systems and new behaviours instead of being blinded by drivetrain technology, tailpipe emissions and car ownership.   The two figures are from analysis of MOT data by the [3]. Let’s make an assumption that energy use can be taken as a proxy for overall emissions; these charts show that total emissions are more closely related to how far people travel per year than how clean their cars are. In short, to tackle emissions, we need to get to grips with demand.   Tackling demand is too often seen as being in the “too hot to handle” box. Why?   It’s increasing clear that there are fairly fundamental shifts in travel behaviour. This is often associated with the replacement of the right-of-passage of getting a car with the desire to keep connected.  
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articles - 7 Jun 2017

What proportion of the population can shared transport appeal to? Writes Alistair Kirkbride: LTT Mobility Matters

Who travels how? As we consider new models of mobility – whether these are autonomous vehicles or Mobility as a Service packages – perhaps the more interesting question is, who is likely to travel how in the future? Put another way, of the people you know, how might they be travelling in 5 or 10 year’s time?  
  In the housing sector, an oft-overlooked likelihood is that about 80% of 2050’s housing stock has already been built [1]. In a similar vein, how similar will be people’s mobility lifestyles be in 2050 to now? Who (and how many) might be travelling differently – but more importantly, who won’t be. While we can’t know the answer to this, we canexplore who is currently changing behaviour.   The last 15 years has also led to a much clearer understanding of the sorts of people that use sustainable transport. This is mainly due to the of Government initiatives such as the DfT Sustainable Travel Towns and Local Sustainable Transport Fund programmes, and Scotland’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places. This has still not been brought together into an evidence-based coherent understanding of future mobility lifestyles. As a complement to this, having good data regarding types of users of shared transport. Spoiler alert – car club use is fairly socially filtered but widening, bikeshare (and especially electric bikes) seems to appeal to a wider demographic than cycling more generally. So who does – and doesn’t – use shared transport, and what might we take from this knowledge regarding broader understanding and influence over how people might travel in the future?   The Table shows that the majority of types of people that currently use car clubs come from a minority of the types of people in the UK population. Perhaps more interesting is the differences between the places: is the wider range of types of people in Scotland’s car clubs a result of the very deliberate intervention and support by the Scottish Government since 2010? Is the narrower range of types in London due to the dominance of the commercial focus of London operations and development? If this is the case, then it is a strong case for public sector intervention to ensure that the benefits of car clubs are spread fairly – across types of users and places.   X% of car club users come from Y Mosaic groups (of 66); these groups account for Z% of the population (Data from Carplus Car Club Annual Survey, 2016)            
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Shared Bikes News - 6 Jun 2017

Interest-free loans for electric bikes in Scotland

  Businesses looking to purchase plug-in electric vehicles, electric scooters or electric bikes are being offered interest-free loans by The Energy Saving Trust in Scotland.   The money is available for schemes looking to add electric transport to their fleet in Scotland, or to launch in new areas.    
  Contact Gordon Manson at the Energy Saving Trust to apply or for more details call 0131 539 4138 or email  
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News - 6 Jun 2017

Liftshare granted funding to investigate rural and social isolation

2+ operator Liftshare has won £25,000 worth of funding from Nesta to explore initiatives to end rural and social isolation faced by people across Norfolk.   Working in partnership with local Community Transport (CT) providers throughout the county on their project ‘HappyCT’ to find ways to improve on-demand transport options for those suffering from social and rural isolation, and to aim to promote available services to potential users.  
  Last November, Nesta research revealed an untapped market for platforms with a social purpose – nearly 45 million British adults are not aware of how sharing economy technologies can help them access social support services, or support community causes. This inspired the company to launch the ShareLab fund. Liftshare is one of eight companies to receive funding for their project.   The HappyCT project will be headed up by Liftshare’s Head of Growth, Paul Gosnell, who is now undertaking the initial research phase. Paul said: “Community Transport is a huge industry but relatively unknown to the people it can help most – the people cut off from society due to lack of or poor transport options. Combining support, awareness, and data with technology can help connect people and CT operators which is something myself and Liftshare are passionate about doing. Using technology to solve real problems. I encourage all interested parties to get in touch with me to share their ideas and opinions!”   Helen Goulden, Executive Director, Innovation Lab at Nesta, comments: “The ideas funded through ShareLab show that the collaborative economy has many practical applications beyond just finding a place to stay or getting a cab ride. We see great potential in these innovations to help alleviate some of the pressure on local governments, addressing the real needs of people, families and communities.”  
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