Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Need to Hybridize Bikeshare

Third generation “fixed” or “station-based” bikeshare and “flexible” or “dockless” bikeshare both started around the same time around the dawn of the new millennium. Clear Channel’s SmartBike and Deutsche Bahn’s Call a Bike are two of the oldest station-based and dockless systems, respectively. Both fixed and flexible bikeshare have their own unique set of benefits and detriments however it’s time to hybridize them to a greater extent than has happened at the present in order to achieve the benefits of both while lessening the detriments of each.

The benefits of fixed bikeshare are that it: 1) provides order in an urban environment as the station and its bikes use a defined space, 2) provides the customer a set location from which to rent a bike. In an urban environment where every square meter of space is spoken for, a fixed system ensures formality of the bikes being parked as was intended in an orderly way that doesn’t negatively impact other street users. Additionally, as we are creatures of habit, starting off one’s morning commute in the same manner and location each day provides a level of comfort for a customer, assuming that bikes are available.

However, issues with fixed bikeshare are that it’s expensive for the system owner to purchase a station as they can easily cost $50,000 USD. Additionally, finding sufficient space for a 50’ x 6’ station, for example, and an adjacent site from which to rebalance it can be time-consuming to obtain necessary approvals and difficult to find a big enough area in an urban environment.

The benefits of flexible bikeshare are: 1) the bikes don’t require the same level of investment as does station infrastructure, and 2) servicing less dense areas -- where usage is lower and distances are greater – is comparatively quite economical.

However, a major issue with flexible bikeshare is that the bikes sometimes aren’t parked well by the public in denser neighborhoods, leading to obstacles on sidewalks and streets as well as using up valuable public space.

Therefore, hybrid fixed/flexible systems with stations in denser neighborhoods but not in less dense areas should be made commonplace by the cities and counties who own bikeshare systems and the bike and station vendors they work with. This would allow for a more economical transit service to implement and operate along with more orderly placement of bikes – the latter of which has been a great concern to the public.

An additional benefit is that overflow parking can easily be created by customers at fixed systems by the flexible systems by locking the flexible bikes either to adjacent inverted U bike racks as nextbike does in Budapest, or to the docked bikes themselves as Smoove does in Paris. This decreases the need for rebalancing the full stations as additional limited capacity can be created.

There are a few vendors as I’ve mentioned above that have seen the light and necessity of hybridizing, including nextbike (below), Call a Bike, and Jump. Smoove is to have this in Paris in the future. It would be wise for more vendors to follow this path for the benefit of bikeshare customers around the world who rely on bikeshare to move around their region.

Locking a nextbike adjacent to the station in Budapest, Hungary, credit: MOL Bubi
The dawn of pedelecs has arrived into bikeshare and flexible pedelecs are going to need stations that are hard-wired to an electrical source to recharge. Manual swapping of batteries for a large fleet would be a grand task and is merely a short-term solution.

With hybridization of fixed and flexible technologies, the best of both worlds unite. There will be roadblocks, such as competition between vendors and lack of cooperation between municipalities and operators but hybridization will happen because it’s too good of an idea to not.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Bike-sharing World Map is 10 years old

On November 9, 2007 the first green bicycle icon appeared on
Ten years later there are 2075 entries showing programs in operation, programs being constructed or planned and programs that have been terminated.
The map has been viewed by almost 6,000,000 times over these years. It is updated with the latest news on programs daily.

Watch this animation of the chronology of self-service public use bicycles:

Thank for all the views!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vélib'- Ten Years Old

On July 15, 2007, then Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë opened 10,600 bikes in 750 self-service rental stations to Parisians and the world.  For only €1 ($1.14 US) a day, one could take unlimited rides of 30 minutes each or less. It seemed to be a transportation revolution.

Vélib' success made the world embrace self-service public bicycles.
It might not have been the first program,
but its notoriety changed the world.

Video on how it all began for Paris

In 2007 there were only around 20 self-service public use bicycle programs throughout the world.  Now ten years later, there are over 1,350. Many of them are direct copies of the JCDecaux design and function seen in Vélib'.

What at first might have seemed a curiosity, automated self-service bicycle rental has turned into a social phenomenon. According to JCDecaux, the current operator of Vélib', every minute 75 Vélib' bikes are rented in Paris. On average each bike is used about 6 times a day. In the last 10 years over 300,000,000 trips were pedaled on Vélib'. Now, there are 300,000 annual subscribers to the system in the City of Lights.

The Next 15 Years

January 2018 will bring, Vélib’ 2.0, with a new design, a new service, and a new operator: the Smoovengo consortium will replace JCDecaux. It will introduce what Smoovengo bills as the "4th generation" in self-service bicycles. This will include 30% of the fleet as electric assisted pedelecs. The maximum speed for the electric assist pedelecs will be set at 25 km/h (15.5 mph).  Weighing 20.6 kg (45 lbs.) the regular pedal new Vélib’ will be "lighter and stronger" than the old one at 22.7 kg (50 lbs.). 

The new "padlock fork will help prevent theft" from stations and while parking away from stations. To abate the annoyance of Parisians, who have found stations full when returning a bike, the system of will allow "depositing bikes at a station even when all the places are already occupied".  Each bike will have "embedded electronics" with a handlebar equipped with an on-board communication system (the Smoove Box) that is self-powered by a dynamo that will allow connecting a smartphone for way-finding and information.
Illustration of the Smoove Box 
Congratulations to Vélib', the old and the new. 

Vive les vélos en libre-service & Vive le 

Vélo Liberté 

images & information: Vélib' (logo & Video) Franceblue l'Express, Smoove

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on Public Use Bicycle programs and a complement to The Bike-sharing Blog.
The map can be viewed at

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap   

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Bike-sharing World at the End of 2016

tap images to enlarge   Link to view as PDF

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with automated - information technology bicycle programs for public use. It is a complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. The map can be viewed at

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap         
 Contact for more information 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Year-end wrap-up will appear at the end of January

The Bike-sharing Blog yearly wrap-up of the state of the Bike-sharing World will appear at the end of January.
Please take a look at the Dock-it 2015 for comparison.

A quick prevue: 2016 ended with a world-wide fleet of approximately 2,000,000 public use bicycles in automated and/or information technology controlled systems in approximately 1,175 cities, municipalities or district jurisdictions in 63 countries.

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. The map can be viewed at

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap   

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The African Continent - The Third Week of October 2016

Medina Bike Marrakesh Morocco
The first public use bicycle program on the African Continent will begin on November 7, 2016.  Medina Bike will launch with 300 bikes in 12 stations for the opening of the Congress of Parties, COP22, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, in Morocco. According to InfoMédiare the program will have equipment from the French company Smoove.

Mobike Light
This week Mobike, the free floating Chinese public use bike program, has expanded into Shenzhen, China. Starting in April 2016 in Shanghai, the are now Mobikes in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen according to Also this week, Mobike introduced a new Mobike Light bicycle. According to the Shanghai Daily, this bike will first be deployed in the Baoshan District, just north of Shanghai. It will cost around 7¢US per 30 minutes to use this new bike. One half the price of using the original Mobike! Between these two bicycles, Mobike hopes to have 100,000 bicycles on the streets of greater Shanghai by the end of the year. That would overtake Hangzhou for the title of the city with the world's largest public use bicycle program.

Nextbike Berlin, Germany
This week Nextbike started installing a pilot program running for the month of November in Lichtenberg, Germany. This is a test to make ready for its deployment of 5,000 bikes in 700 stations next year in the city of Berlin. The program is to replace the 1,500 bike Call-a-Bike system currently in Berlin. According to and Berliner Kurier, the City Senate has told Call-a-Bike to remove its bikes and stations, but Deutche Bahn, Call-a Bike's parent company, says it will replace its system with a new one in Berlin. Stay tuned for reports on this teutonic shift!

B-cycle Dash
B-cycle Dash+
B-cycle introduced two new bicycles to add to their offering for the public use bicycle market. The Dash has an 'on the bike user interface' that could be used in a 'free floater' dockless set up. It will be available soon and is compatible with current B-cycle programs. Also debuted, in prototype form, is the Dash+, a pedelec, which will be available in 2018. Both bikes can be accessed by mobile phone applications and a have a handle bar electronic screen to display navigation and information.


The North American Bikeshare Association
           2016 Annual Conference is November 9-11                                             Austin, Texas USA
This is the conference to attend in 2016 for all information you will need to know about Public Use Bicycling whether in North America or not! 
For information and registration:

images: Smoove, Mobike: Liephone, Nextbike: rbb/24, Bcycle, Digital Journal

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. The map can be viewed at

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap   

Monday, September 5, 2016

"Back to the Future" The Bike-sharing World - First Week of September 2016


Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
Bikesharing to return to Amsterdam 50 years later!
Urbee for Amsterdam,The Netherlands, Destined for Fall 2016
This fall Amsterdam will go Back to the Future with the deployment of Urbee. The birthplace of bike-share will again see public use bicycles with a high-tech reincarnation of the concept in this world bike capital, nearly 50 years later. These smart lock bikes will be placed around Amsterdam to be shared in the similar fashion that the radical Provo movement's "White Bikes" were from the summer of 1965. This time with a mobile telephone based-app, and GPS location, these bikes promise to be easy to find and use.

Urbee will begin with a soft launch with 300 electric-assist bicycles, or pedelces, with full deployment of 1,150 in the spring of 2017, according to Duurzammnieuws. For those in the Bike-sharing World this is extremely gratifying news as now those men and women who pioneered public use bicycles with White Bikes can ride around Amsterdam with their white hair!

North America

The past few months have seen an explosion of new public use bicycle programs in the USA and Canada. Here is a list from

Alpharettta, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Aurora, Illinois; Basaslt, Colorado; Beverly Hills, California; Brownville, Harlin & Edinburg, Texas; College Park, Maryland; Clarksville, Tennessee; Columbus, Indiana; Corpus Christi, Texas; Corvallis, Oregon; Fairbanks, Alaska; Fort Collins, Colorado; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Gainesville, Florida; Huntington, Indiana; Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles County, California; Mesa, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Princeton, New Jersey; Rome, New York; Rochester, Minnesota; San Mateo, California; Vancouver, British Columbia; West Hollywood, California; Westfield, Indiana; Westminster, Colorado; and Willets, Colorado. Whew. Now my fingers hurt from typing all that.

This past June, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania hosted the Better Bike Share Partnership Conference.
The goal was to find ways to make public use bicycle programs more accessible. Speakers from around the USA recounted the progress made and examples to follow in achieving this goal.

Take note: the North America Bikeshare Association annual conference and meeting starts November 9, 2016. If it's not on your calendar, it should be!

image: Urbee

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. The map can be viewed at

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap   

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Trial of Trip-Based Fares

A goal of publicly owned bike-share systems is to provide safe, cheap, and widespread transit for its citizens and visitors. While annual memberships offer this for frequent customers, the 24-hour membership that many systems have does this poorly for infrequent and would-be customers. To improve upon this, the Washington, D.C. region’s Capital Bikeshare has embarked upon a new pilot fare – the $2 “Single Trip”.
Unlike the common duration-based bike-share fare types, lasting anywhere between 24 hours and 1 year, the trip-based fare type is more transit-oriented as it’s focused on the lowest common denominator – the trip itself – rather than a time period. The Single Trip fare’s $2 cost gives a customer up to 30 minutes of ride time with greater usage fees for longer trips. Capital Bikeshare’s Single Trip fare is one of the least expensive fare options of the “buffet model” of pricing in North America that was discussed here on The Bike-sharing Blog on September 14, 2014. The D.C. region joins Pittsburgh’s Healthy Ride with their similarly priced “Pay As You Go” fare.

Offering a trip-based fare in an established duration-based fare structure creates great risk. The risk is that revenues would drastically drop as customers who were formerly paying for a higher priced 24-hour membership, instead decide to purchase a trip-based pass at a quarter of the price. Less revenue would hurt a system’s cost recovery and make the system more reliant on other revenue sources, such as public subsidy or more advertising, if these options were available. To many public and non-profit systems, they are not.

The other possible outcome is that the trip-based fare would induce more trips by those for whom a 24-hour membership cost were too high, but who would pay the cheaper $2 fare which is comparable to the price of other modes of transit.

It’s unknown at this point which way the wheels will turn on trip-based versus duration-based revenues, however things are looking good. Over the past year new and established systems in North America have been inching towards lower-cost trip-based fares, such as with Montreal’s “One Way” pass for $2.95 CAD ($2.28 USD) and Philadelphia’s “Walk-up” and Minneapolis/St. Paul’s “Single Rides” passes – both for $4. There is also the “Pay As You Go“ fares of Social Bicycles that are charged by the minute -- another good solution.

Whatever name the pass goes by, the trip-based fare will hopefully increase bike-share trips, generate greater revenue, lower the financial barrier for people who need just one or two trips rather than 24 hours of trips, and make riding a bike a legitimate 2-wheeled transit option in a country where bike-riding for transport is not commonplace. Further, it could make bike-share resemble the more common fare structure of other modes of transit by removing the membership aspect and pricing it similarly to bus, streetcar, and rail.

At an historic time in the Washington, D.C. region where the country’s 2nd most highly used subway system has begun a nearly year-long maintenance surge of single-tracking and station closures for weeks at a time starting today, Capital Bikeshare’s Single Trip fare will hopefully provide an economical and convenient transport option for the thousands of commuters who are looking for another mode in which they can rely upon for the next year and beyond. If Capital Bikeshare and other innovative bike-share systems are successful with the trip-based fare, it could be a new model for bike-share systems to emulate.

MetroBike, LLC is affiliated with Capital Bikeshare.