Existing and emerging models
Bike share can be broadly defined as any setting where bicycles are pooled for multiple users. Models include Public Bike Share (PBS) – self-service on-street docked or dockless stations – workplace pool bikes, railway station hubs, loans, lockers and peer to peer sharing.
Public bike share
On-street bikes arrived on the streets of London in 2010, this highly successful scheme has grown to over 16,000 bikes across London, echoing developments in other major cities across the world.
In the following years bike share scheme have successfully been established outside the capital including Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Brighton, and Cardiff.
Since 2016 the sector has grown fast with new financial models, technological advances, partnerships integrating schemes with other modes and the offer of electric bike share.
Bikes are placed on-street typically in clusters of 5-20 either with fixed docking stations or with virtual geo-fenced hubs with markings on the ground to show space is allocated to bike share.
The bikes are placed in key locations around the town/city and regular intervals in between for convenience. The locking technology for the bike may be on the frame itself or embedded in the docking station.
The bikes can be returned to any station to end the hire and with some technology it is possible to lock them on cycle parking stands if the docking station is full. Typically, pricing models encourage half hour short hop hires although they can be hired for longer.
Free-floating bike share
Free-floating systems deploy smart bikes but allow the bikes to be dropped off at any location within a city or town’s boundaries. A set of guidelines are provided on how to safely park a bike without causing obstructions.
Electric bike share
Electric bikes are becoming an increasingly popular way to get around. Electric bikes (sometimes known as Pedelecs) are defined as cycles using power to assist pedalling. On the continent, their popularity is seen amongst all sectors of society and particularly amongst those taking up or returning to cycling. They are seen as a valuable tool for:
• Encouraging those who feel less confident about their fitness to cycle;
• travelling further;
• cycling in hilly areas;
• cycling without getting too tired or sweaty.
Workplace pool bikes
For many years bikes have been offered in a shared capacity at workplaces and in communities. Typically, the bikes are all stored in one location and the keys are accessed via a designated person or through a key safe. Sometimes bikes can be booked by the hour or alternatively hubs can offer longer loans. Cycle hubs are often combined with other cycling services such as secure bike parking, route advice and maintenance or wider transport information. Smart locks are now available to add to a fleet of existing or non-bike share bike provide multi-user self-service access. They can be configured to fit local needs with a choice of tariffs and back to base or one-way hires. Smart locks can be used with a uniform fleet of bikes to look like public bike share or with a mix of pool bikes and users’ own bikes.
Railway station hubs
Bike hire at rail stations offer a last mile travel mode. Bikes are usually accessed via staff in a hub which is also used as a central location for community bike hire. Some offer back to base hires while others can be returned to different rail stations, in both cases the pricing model encourages full day hire.
Bike libraries / loans
The concept of bike libraries is a relatively new one although many places have offered the loan of a cycle as a “try before you buy” strategy for some time. Bikes are held in a diverse range of community locations including traditional libraries and sports centres or are brought into the community using mobile transport.
Peer-to-peer bike sharing is the sharing of individually owned bikes with other people on an adhoc basis akin to Airbnb. For owners the attraction comes from making money from renting your bike when it is sitting idle. For users, the attraction is the option to choose from a diverse range of bikes, either to avoid taking their own bike to a new location or only paying a small fee to borrow a bike instead of buying and maintaining one.