Bicycle share programs

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Bicycle share programs are transportation initiatives in which members of the program may pick up a bicycle at any of the designated stations within the program, use it, and then deliver it to another bicycle station when they are finished. This system is ideal for short, local travel, and provides a cost sensitive, environmentally friendly form of transportation for community members. Within bicycle share programs, individuals pay membership fees which grant them access to any of the bicycles within the limits of the program stations. These fees may be paid monthly, annually, etc. These programs are typically less expensive than public transportation and fairly inexpensive for cities to adopt. [1]


  1. Goal: Increase bicycle ridership
  2. Goal: Increase the affordability of bicycle use
  3. Goal: Decrease the cost of operating and maintaining bicycle transportation
  4. Goal: Decrease bicycle theft
  5. Goal: Increase bicycle parking capacity
  6. Goal: Increase the efficiency of bicycle parking use
  7. Goal: Increase the amount of bicycle transportation data available for planning and administration
  8. Goal: Increase the rates of bicycle transportation user comfort, convenient and satisfaction
  9. Goal: Decrease the rate of automobile use
  10. Goal: Decrease the rate of environmental damage from automobiles

A community has received complaints from its citizens about overcrowding of vehicles along a roadway, a lack of bicycle parking, and bicycle thievery in the town, among other things. The local planning commission meets to discuss this issue, and decides to create a bicycle share program. A committee of interested citizens, government officials, and planners work collaboratively to form the program, in which several bicycle stations will be installed throughout the community. Interested citizens may pay the membership fee, which will allow them access to any of the sharing stations. They may use the bicycles daily and return them to the stations once they are finished.


Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:

  1. Decline in public transportation and other modes of travel due to substituted use of bicycle transportation for more trips
  2. Decline in revenue received from use of public parking facilities due to substituted use of bicycle transportation for more trips
  3. Tendency for programs to not provide users with helmets, which could incite social controversy or cause an increased rate of rider injuries
  4. Reduction in available pedestrian, green, bench, and trash and recycling receptacle space due to use of right-of-way for installation of stations
  5. Increased rate of transportation accidents due to comingling of more bicyclists with vehicles
  6. Negative traffic impact on flow and speed of vehicles due to increased prevalence of bicyclists
  7. Negative business and visitor impact in areas that are not served by bicycle stations and become comparatively less accessible
Compatibility Assessment

If answered yes, the following questions indicate superior conditions under which the policy is more likely to be appropriate:

  1. Is there a demand for increased bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure?
  2. Is there interest in environmental awareness, conservation, and more sustainable infrastructure in the community?
  3. Are community members displeased with traffic congestion along roadways?
  4. Is there a demand for a healthier community?
  5. Is there a demand for a more cost effective form of transportation?
  6. Is there current bicycle theft in the community?
  7. Are community members often participating in short distance trips?
  8. Is the local governance supportive of alternative, more sustainable transportation infrastructure?
  9. Is there community funding available for transportation projects?

The following questions should be considered when determining how to implement this policy:

  1. How much will membership fees cost, and will members be able to customize the length of their membership? (i.e. tourists vs. residents)
  2. What is the penalty toward a user who does not follow the rules of the program? (i.e. does not return a bike)
  3. How will damages to the infrastructure be dealt with and who is responsible for paying for them?
  4. Will there be a specific maximum locational range in which a bicycle station must be located throughout the community, so as to ensure they are placed frequently and accessibly? [2]
  5. What kind of bicycles will be used in the system, and will they all be the same model?
  6. Is there a maximum time for which a member can borrow a bicycle?
  7. Should there be safety measures or training in place for members of the program?
  8. Will there be a system in place to ensure that each station is always equipped with bicycles?







  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Article describes generalities of bicycle share programs and existing research, news, and studies about the subject.
  • The Bike Sharing Planning Guide (2013). Alter, Lloyd. Treehugger. Article details the five necessary conditions that must exist in order for a program to succeed.
  • Bikeshare (2012). Bikeshare. Details cities with existing bike share programs and those who are launching them.
  • Bike Sharing Sweeps the U.S. (2013). People for Bikes Infographic details most beneficial aspects of bike share programs.
  • 10 Best Bike-share Programs (2015). Bleiberg, Larry. USA Today. Article describes some of the best bicycle share programs in the country, and the specific assets that set it apart from other programs.
  • Bikeshare System Growth Research (2015). Kille, Leighton Walker. Journalist's Resource. Research details both the health impact on individual bicycle share programs users and the respective societal impacts of these programs.
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