Bike Sharing: A review of evidence on impacts and processes of implementation and operation1

Despite the growing popularity of bike sharing, there is a lack of in-depth impact and process evaluations of existing schemes, especially with regard to measuring the ‘success’ of a scheme against its original objectives. This paper is concerned with identifying and critically interpreting the available evidence on bike sharing to date, on both impacts and processes of implementation and operation. The growing yet limited evidence base suggests that bike sharing can increase cycling levels but needs complementary pro-cycling measures and wider support to sustainable urban mobility to thrive. While predominantly enabling a commuting function, bike sharing allows users to undertake other key economic, social and leisure activities. It benefits users through improved health, increased transport choice and convenience, reduced travel times and costs, and improved travel experience. However these benefits are unequally distributed, since users are typically male, younger and in more advantaged socio-economic positions than the average population. There is no evidence that bike sharing significantly reduces traffic congestion, carbon emissions and pollution. From a process perspective, bike sharing can be delivered through multiple governance models, involving a varying mix of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. A key challenge to operation is network rebalancing, while facilitating factors include partnership working and inclusive scheme promotion. Drawing on this evidence review, the paper suggests directions for future research and concludes that high-quality monitoring data, systematically and consistently collected, concerning a wide range of impact and process indicators are needed. The development of innovative evaluation tools that are suitable to assess the value of bike sharing, coupled with an open and transparent debate about its role in wider transport systems, are necessary for bike sharing to be an effective element of sustainable urban mobility strategies.

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