Bike sharing: Impacts and processes of implementation and operation

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Miriam Ricci, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Transport & Society at the University of the West of England, has recently completed a research report on bike sharing that will be of interest to our readers.

Her 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 ten page analytic report is freely available online from Elsevier until July 19, 2015 at http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1R6t47sdbMZRLC. A short description and introduction to the report follows here.

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.

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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About the author:

Miriam RicciMiriam Ricci, born in Turin (Italy), is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Transport & Society at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UK). Her key research interest is sustainable and equitable urban mobility. She has extensive expertise in transport policy evaluation, innovative vehicle technologies and shared mobility. Miriam’s academic background is multi-disciplinary, with a MSc in Physics and a Ph.D. in Innovation Studies. Some of her past research explored risk perception and public engagement with hydrogen and other low-carbon technologies. Before pursuing an academic career, Miriam worked in the private and public sector in Italy and abroad. Twitter (@RicciMiriam) .  Email miriam.ricci@uwe.ac.uk .

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About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a public entrepreneur specializing in the field of sustainability and social justice. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions and in the process find practical solutions to urgent climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7

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