“In your city if your urban grid is bicycle unfriendly you know people aren’t going to use it because they won’t feel safe,” Desmond says. “I think it definitely has to be in a bike-friendly environment where people feel comfortable and safe, biking. The hard core bikers are probably not bike-share people because hard -core bikers are already on their bike. So you’re looking to attract a different market that I believe places their own personal safety quite high.”
Payment and Funding
Most bike-sharing programs, from China to the United States, have a fee system based on membership. There are usually a few membership options — daily, weekly, monthly or annually. Denver Bike Share has three options for access fees, 24 hours, seven days or annually. When a customer comes up to the bike share kiosk, if they are purchasing a 24-hour or 7-day membership, they swipe their credit card and then have unlimited 30-minute rentals during that period. However, if the bike isn’t returned to a kiosk in 30 minutes, a usage fee begins to be charged. This helps to ensure that bikes stay in circulation, Burnap explains. For users who purchase a year membership, they receive an access card with a magnetic strip on the back. In addition, Denver Bike Share has an agreement with the bike-share program in Boulder, Colo., and the memberships can be shared between the two programs.
While capital acquisitions are paid for using grant and gift money, all recurring operating and general administrative costs, such as payroll, fuel, parts, rent, etc., are paid using membership fees, user fees and sponsorship, explains Burnap.
In Hangzhou, China, the same farecard can be used on the transit system as well as the bike share, according to Desmond, who traveled to China in 2011 as part of the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) international transit study mission.
In Hangzhou people can also buy a farecard that is specifically for the bike share as well. “People need to get a public bicycle service card or normal transportation card, but first users have to register the system, and need to pay 200RMB deposit, and the charging structure is: 1 hour is free, 1 to 2 hours is 1RMB, 2 to 3 hours is 2RMB, more than 3 hours is 3RMB per hour,” explains Li Shanshan, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy bike sharing project manager.
Burnap and Desmond both stress the importance of having financial partners to help fund the program.
“I think what we see is a sense of partnership with various different public entities and various other private or corporate entities, whether it’s through a big advertising deal or here in our city [Seattle], for example we’re looking at hospitals and education institutions and health insurance companies because part of the angle is the healthy lifestyle. We’re thinking of the public health angle a little more to help get it off the ground,” Desmond says.
Working with Transit
Denver Bike Share works very closely with Denver RTD and Denver Bike Share has placed a number of its kiosks at or near RTD bus stops and light rail stations. The two work together to promote multimodal transportation and have joined forces on a marketing campaign. RTD’s head of planning even sits on Denver Bike Share’s board of directors.
In Guangzhou, China, the bike-share program was created alongside the bus rapid transit line. “We saw in Guangzhou in particular was the direct relationship between the city’s vision for their bus rapid transit corridor and biking,” explains Desmond. “At each station stop they had bike-share stations with lots of bikes so that people could then complete their trip on the bike. The corridor itself was constructed with a lot of greenway and pedestrian paths and bike paths so you don’t have to bike on the road itself with all the very congested traffic so it was a very pleasant and easy and a seemingly safe bicycle riding experience. But the concept was to really integrate the growth in the market for the BRT itself with the bike share.”
In 2011, Guangzhou had 113 stations with about 5,000 bicycles and was experiencing very rapid growth in utilization, Desmond says.
In Hangzhou, the bike-share program was not set up directly with the public transit. However, the bike stations are located close to BRT stations and bus stops.