Interesting fact

Incentives have to be combined with straightforward designs in order to ensure attractiveness of cycle hire schemes.

There has been a noticeable growth in the implementation of bike sharing schemes throughout the world in the last five years (e.g., Google Bike Sharing Scheme). Bike sharing schemes are an example of social innovation scheme (access-based consumption or shared economy) in the transport sector. Bike share schemes range from those established and organised from a grassroots community initiative, to those that are the result of public-private cooperation between a city authority and a large international company e.g., London Cycle Hire scheme.

The EMPOWER project is concerned with campaigns that aim to achieve a shift in mode from the use of conventionally fuel vehicles to cycling, including cycling using bike share schemes. There are a range of initiatives available and implemented to stimulate bike sharing, for example infrastructure provision, that is ensuring that the density and location of bike docking stations meets demand. However, EMPOWER is focussed on campaigns and initiatives that use positive incentives and provide rewards if a change in behaviour is executed.

Positive incentive campaigns can be implemented as either ‘standalone’ measures or integrated with other cycling initiatives, such as new cycle lane infrastructure (see for example, the ‘cycle superhighway’, Leeds, UK or the ‘cycle superhighway’, Copenhagen, Denmark), or the introduction of cycle lights at intersections. Campaigns can be focussed around encouraging new users or increasing ridership from existing users. Within those two broad categories campaigns may also focus on (a) a specific demographic, or (b) a specific behaviour or a combination of the two. For example, offering incentives for employees to ‘bike to work’ for their daily commute. In addition, many cycle sharing schemes focus on attracting tourists particularly if implemented in large or capital cities or tourist areas.

Research has shown that the design of a bike share scheme can be very influential in attracting users and positive incentive campaigns will struggle to overcome the negative impact of a poorly designed scheme. Chief among the issues is to ensure that the density and location of the docking stations meets the needs of the population the cycle scheme intends to attract. A further issue is to make the ‘ease of use’ at the point of access of bicycles quick, easy and simple. This means that the registration, payment and the physical access to the bike should be easy, simple and quick. In addition, research has shown that point-to-point hire rather than hire whereby the bike has to be returned to the hire destination is also attractive. Research has shown that there are some underlying intrinsic motivators to participating in shared economy schemes such as shared cycle schemes. These are important as they can provide indicators to the design of incentives. Such motivations include, personal identity, perception of health and the health benefits of cycling as well as perceptions and attitudes towards ‘ethical consumption’. Further research is required to identify the individual and combined incentive campaigns that focus on specific demographics such as tourists and commuters to work. Further research is also required to refine the use of monetary incentives with bike sharing schemes.


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