Bike sharing is catching on worldwide, particularly in China (Photo: Ford Motor)

As alternatives to traditional urban transport gain traction, bike sharing schemes are growing 20 pc a year, according to a new report by Roland Berger.

The consultants project that the global market for bike sharing programs will grow to anywhere between 3.6 billion and 5.3 billion euros by 2020. They also say bike sharing can be a profitable business, with potential EBIT of 10-15 pc.

Roland Berger says digitalization is helping to make bike sharing more attractive. Navigation can be added to bikes, while connected technology can tie bike sharing to public transport.

Electric bikes may also boost the appeal of bicycles as an alternative to cars or public transportation.

The Roland Berger report identifies six success factors for bike-sharing programs:

  1. A high-density network
  2. Multi-modal integration
  3. Simplicity in handling processes
  4. Attractive pricing
  5. Durable and comfortable bikes
  6. Support from local authorities.

Worldwide, Roland Berger counts 1,000 bike sharing systems in operation with a total of 1,270,000 bikes available. The biggest regional market for the programs is in Asia.

The Chinese cities of Wuhan and Hangzhou top the list with 90,000 and 78,000 bikes in operation, respectively.

Said Roland Berger partner Tobias Schoenberg: “The market for bike sharing solutions offers enormous potential the world over.”

-By Arjen Bongard

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