Bike sharing is a popular mode of transport that has evolved significantly over the last few years. It has changed at a behavioural, organizational, and functional level. While it is now a viable alternative to the growing number of automobile users, it still faces a number of challenges. Among them, there are many unbanked people in the United States who have made it difficult to expand bike-sharing systems.
In addition, the rise of dockless bikes has caused a series of problems. For example, dockless bikes are easy to vandalize and are littering public spaces. The city of Dallas has experienced hundreds of complaints over dockless bikes, which have been found sawed in half or bolted to telephone poles. Some dockless bikes are broken, while others are stolen.
Before launching a new bike share system, it is important to identify the key drivers of use, and analyze how they are influenced by service features. Surveys and longitudinal studies can provide important policy implications.
Generally, the younger and wealthier users are more likely to participate in bike sharing. They are also more likely to be able to handle the bicycles. This is in line with findings from surveys. Also, there is a gender gap in bike sharing. Women are more likely to take risks, while men are more likely to be satisfied with monetary costs. Moreover, there is an increasing percentage of older workers and students who are joining the program.
Another challenge of bike sharing is to attract low-income riders. Studies indicate that low-income users are underrepresented in the overall number of riders. In Dallas, for example, the number of low-income bike users has fallen dramatically over the past few years. Similarly, in New York City, the number of low-income bike users is still incredibly small. However, more and more cities are implementing programs that target these demographics.
A study of bike share systems in Madrid showed that their success is determined by a combination of factors. These include the pricing strategies and operations of the private or public scheme. Users’ satisfaction with the service also plays a significant role.
The performance of a bike sharing system is a key indicator that planners can use to determine the cost-efficiency of the system. For instance, a strong network expansion can boost user satisfaction. Likewise, a flexible station model can reduce the capital and operational costs. Other factors to consider include advertising capacity, signage, and visibility.
Overall, the BiciMAD project is achieving a high efficiency, with a consistent performance that is in line with optimal values recommended by planning literature. Moreover, the project’s success is attributed to the influencing role that users play. Specifically, more frequent users are more likely to enjoy using the bike and are more satisfied with the pedelec assistance. Furthermore, the increased availability of the bikes in the stations is aligned with the investments of the new operator.
With these observations in mind, it is clear that bike sharing is an important tool for a city’s overall transportation system. It offers access to healthy exercise, and can ease traffic congestion.