All articles>

Bike-sharing At Velo City 2024


Bike-sharing At Velo City 2024

BY   Alexandre Gauquelin   

Velo City 2024 took place in Ghent, Belgium, from the 18th to the 21st of June. For those who are not familiar with it, it is renowned as the reference conference promoting cycling globally. Indeed, the diversity of backgrounds and interests in the audience is stimulating: it showcases the numerous cycling-related initiatives being held on all continents to change society.

Bike-sharing: a piece of the cycling puzzle

Let’s be humble, bike-share is a small piece of this cycling puzzle, but every piece is important to achieve the common goal. A common goal that the EU Commission managed to put together in the EU Cycling Declaration signed last April.

The first thought when walking around Ghent’s Floraliënhal alleys was that bike-share seems to be in good health: Fifteen, PBSC, or Inurba had their own booths, while Wunder Mobility, Urban Sharing, Qucit, TIER-Dott, or Nextbike were hosted at the CIE booth. If you add Moby and Cargoroo, plus the Donkey Republic bikes everywhere, we felt like we were on home soil with such a strong presence.

CIE, BSEG: what’s that ?

Both the exhibition and conferences related to bike-share highlighted the importance of CIE’s bike-share expert group. Gathering the European industry leaders under the CIE umbrella allows for bigger impact and achievement: from integration into major mapping apps to creating databases, and ensuring that bike-share is mentioned in the EU Cycling Declaration, the BSEG did a lot for the industry’s good health.


“A bike-share service cannot be operated from a Chinese factory: it is creating jobs, leveraging operational expertise, etc. to provide a mobility service to the very heart of a city.”

Kevin Mayne, CEO of Cycling Industries Europe, highlighting the added value of bike-share stakeholders in Europe.

A couple of conferences allowed the Velo-Citizens community to gather and exchange ideas about bike-share topics. A fully packed workshop organised by the CIE bike-share expert group challenged the participants with a “simple” question on a range of cities: How to double the number of bike-share rides year over year?

With scheme data on the table—city characteristics, number of bikes per 10,000 inhabitants, number of trips per 10,000 inhabitants, or number of trips per bike per day—the brainstorming started. Gathering a heterogeneous public around such a question allows addressing the problem from as many points of view as possible. While some focus on contracting and business models, others mention pricing or mode of access, while others will focus on operations. The BSEG gathered all the insights to fuel its upcoming Bike Share Benchmark, an update of the 2023 version.

Bike-share can serve more diverse cities

Velo-City is also a great way to take a step forward and think about bike-share as a service and not just a solution to be implemented. For example, it means that not only Western cities able to afford high-end digitalised solutions, but also developing ones from Latin America, Africa, or Southern Asia should be able to get a bike-sharing service as part of their cycling development programme.

Fortaleza, Brazil, launched its bike-share service Bicicletar in 2014 with 600 bikes (including children’s bikes!). The Special Coordinator for Urban Services, Isabela Ribeiro Do Castro, spoke about its success story that brought the total fleet to 1,200 bikes available across 192 stations. The city worked in parallel on the development of its bicycle lane network and offers free access to the service to public transport pass holders, encouraging more people to use the service. Thanks to these efforts to highlight its cycling potential, the Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure (BICI) awarded a $1 million grant to Fortaleza.

If bike-sharing was not specifically mentioned during the session “Challenges and Opportunities for Cycling in Africa“, face-to-face discussions with cycling advocates from the continent confirmed the willingness to develop such services: secured private lands such as university or corporate campuses should be used to test those services in dense and often underserved areas. Several services are already in operation in Uganda or Nigeria, while others should launch in Ghana, for instance. Given the state of the cycling infrastructure and transportation culture in most African countries, bike-sharing can be considered an anachronism, but as elsewhere, locals consider it part of the cycling development strategy.

Contributing to the knowledge base

Velo-City is a great way for local authorities to learn from initiatives launched in other cities, and city officials are keen on sharing their latest experiments and results to add to the knowledge base. For a bike-share enthusiast, there will be a lot of entries with the keyword “intermodality”.

From the Munich and Antwerp feedback on implementing mobility hubs in the session “Innovative Mobility Hubs for Seamless Journeys” to discussions around Brussels’ MaaS experiment Floya, and its impact on promoting intermodality and the adoption of shared mobility, there was indeed a lot to hear and learn about.

” Implementing a MaaS solution like Floya in Brussels is a first step for public transport authorities to accept collaboration with bike share services, even private ones.”

Mathieu Nicaise, STIB-MIVB senior officer, on the need for PT authorities to consider bike-share operators as partners

From the other side of the road (bike-share operators), one topic was raised multiple times during open discussions, echoing what PBSC’s Anthony Rinaldi mentioned during the initial CIE workshop: in front of SLAs defined in the contracts between local authorities and operators, there are currently only fines if you fail… but why not incentivise exceeding the goals? One operator mentioned that with up to 9 rides per bike per day, it is struggling to meet its goals in terms of bike availability and will tend not to operate at full efficiency to lower the usage a bit and respect the SLAs.

In my opinion, Velo-City’s success lies in its will to knock down the walls between the diversity of topics gathered under the “Development of Cycling” label. Anyone attending is indeed challenged and enriched with unique information from people who are not part of their day-to-day network.

Taking a step back and meeting city officials and advocates from all over the world is a great way to rethink bike-sharing, and think about innovative ways to improve it where it already exists, and to implement it where it could have a positive impact.

Thanks to all my fellow Velo Citizens for the good vibes and discussions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *