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Free-floating bike-sharing systems putting pressure on European cities

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  • mobility
date
12-12-2017

New forms of mobility are emerging around the concept of the sharing economy. Bike-sharing systems are entering a phase of ‘dock-less’ or ‘free-floating’. Shared bikes don’t need to be picked up or left at a specific station, but the (almost) whole city area is eligible for parking.

New forms of mobility are emerging around the concept of the sharing economy. Bike-sharing systems are entering a phase of ‘dock-less’ or ‘free-floating’. Shared bikes don’t need to be picked up or left at a specific station, but the (almost) whole city area is eligible for parking.

These innovative solutions present new opportunities but also challenges. On one hand, there is the promotion of more active and sustainable ways of transport, but on the other hand there are some issues with the use of public space for parking and the balanced distribution of available bikes.

As discussed during the last EUROCITIES Mobility forum in Toulouse, it is now time for cities to get prepared for the rapid development of this business. To this aim, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) hosted an event on 20-21 November in Brussels, where EUROCITIES presented the latest bike-share solutions introduced by some if its members during EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2017.

Gdansk used the campaign to consult its residents about its future bike system, Milan accounts now two free-floating and one dock-based systems combining electric and conventional bikes and Vienna launched a cargo bike-sharing scheme free for its users.

The conclusion of this meeting was the need for a shared regulatory framework allowing a better cooperation between the industry and cities. While most bike sharing is overseen by local governments, new operators, mainly coming from China, are private. But if bike sharing is considered a public service, cities have a lot to say here.

Years ago, the main challenge was that bike-sharing schemes were managed by advertisement businesses; nowadays ICT companies are taking over the role. Cities have to make sure that the main focus remain on urban mobility and not on the data business.

Photo credit: Mobilitaetsagentur Christian Fuerthner