Another article from the Fietsberaad:
"Does the introduction of bike share systems such as in Barcelona and Paris lead to a different pattern of travel and a change in the modal split ? However many signals there are this is still difficult to know for sure. That was the conclusion of Gert Brams from Belgium who analysed all the data for these systems for his post graduate thesis at the PCVO Handel in Diepenbeekalle. With his report "Take care, there comes a bike" he presented much interesting material over the introduction and use of loan bike systems in Europe, but only in one case did the numbers support the proposition that residents cycled more frequently. Barcelona is this best example. Traffic counts show a substantial growth on some cycle routes. The BICING system takes some credit for a 26% growth in cycle usage over these routes, 46% of that growth was due to BICING. Over the whole area, the cycling share has approximately doubled. Brams says that the counting figures don't give the full picture about the success of bike share systems: "Loan bikes help also to break throught he myth that in some countries no cycling culture exists." There are a number of factors that are important for success of bike share. From all the studies it is clear that 90% of rides were made for free and that is something that people setting up systems should keep in mind."
I've made clear before my suspicions about the effectiveness of bike share. At that time, Barcelona was the example I picked out as having the best chance of success. They have enough bikes for 1.8% of journeys to be made on them.
Of course, what would really make a difference would be for these cities to invest in cycling infrastructure which makes cycling into an attractive proposition. That's a more difficult thing politically in many places.
End of December update: The Fietsberaad now have their own translation.
Beauty vs Function
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