• Sofia Eugeniou

Bike-sharing systems make us more likely to cycle

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

Recent figures by Sport England have revealed that 100,000 more people are cycling for leisure.

Cycling is the solution to many of society's challenges including air pollution and physical inactivity.

Despite the benefits to human health and a means for less pollution and traffic, biking can also be expensive, and people worry about their bikes being stolen.

Reassuringly, an increasing number of people are choosing to get on their bike in spite of various concerns around the activity.

Image credit: Medium

But what could be contributing to this uptake in cycling?

Well, recent research from the University of Washington has found that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in cities where bike-sharing systems have been introduced, bike commuting increased by 20 per cent.

According to Dafeng Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, the "cities with larger bike-share systems also experienced sharper increases in bicycle commuting".

Bike-share bikes have become increasingly popular and available for use in major, and even mid-sized cities in recent years. These systems are common in cities in Europe and Asia and have grown to more than 50 in U.S. cities as of 2016.

Where one person's ride is spontaneous or part of an exercise regime, another person's ride is a commute to work. Either way, the presence of a bike-sharing system has been found to drive populations to travel by bike.

Not all bike-share systems have been successful, particularly where bikes are hard to find or difficult to rent. In Seattle, for example, a city-owned bike-share programme failed in 2017 due largely to a restricted number of bikes and a lack of infrastructure.

Prior to the pandemic, however, private bike-share companies have mostly thrived.

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