As the environmental effects of pollution, global warming and overpopulation keep becoming more severe, both policymakers and the general populace are trying to find more sustainable ways of everyday living. Carbon emissions produced by motorized vehicles are among the top culprits behind rising pollution levels, especially in metropolitan areas which rely on cars as a chief means of transport. One of the ways of addressing the issue that became popular in recent decades was the adoption of bike sharing services as an alternative means of public transport. In countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, the cyclist makes up more than 70% of the total population, and it is no coincidence that these are some of the most eco-friendly places in the world. However, there is also a severe under-utilization of bicycles in other developed countries such as the USA and Britain, where cyclist represent between 12% and 30% of the population. As one might expect, these countries have fewer bike sharing services as well.
What made countries like the Netherlands switch to a bike-driven transportation network in the first place? It was a combination of a number of factors including better sustainability, improved public health, reduced pollution and diminished roadside congestion. In the rest of this article, we will outline how exactly do bike-sharing services contribute towards these goals. We will also offer some suggestions for prospective bike-sharing businesses that are just starting out.
The main advantage cycling has over other means of transport is reduced resource consumption. Disregarding production costs, a bicycle relies on the human body as the source of energy. This makes cycling extremely energy-efficient in comparison to forms of transport which rely on fossil fuels.
Additionally, fixing and replacing bicycles is easier, and costs fewer resources than doing the same for motorized vehicles, keeping maintenance costs down both short-term and long-term. Finally, laying down cycling tracks is much more cost-efficient than laying down new roads. On top of all these benefits, bike sharing adds another layer. By allowing multiple people to use the same bicycles at different times, these services keep the total number vehicles down while maintaining the same level of convenience as owning a bike. This is especially relevant in cities where storage space is limited. Bicycle shares, therefore, represent a valuable alternative to other forms of public transport.
Air pollution is among the top health hazards for modern city dwellers. And the factor that contributes most to it is carbon emission from motorized vehicles. An average car emits about 1 pound of CO2 per mile driven, which is massive when you take into consideration that bicycles produce no emissions whatsoever. Since bicycles use only clean energy, they one of the most environmentally friendly modes transport available for urban environments. Bike sharing can therefore be a means of fighting against global warming on a local level.
Besides providing a positive externality by means of reducing pollution and contributing to a sustainable living, cycling has been directly correlated with an overall increase in health and well-being in individuals. As a form of exercise, cycling has been associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, greater joint mobility, stronger bones, and lower overall stress levels, to name a few of the benefits. Bike shares can provide much needed public support for cycling as a healthy lifestyle choice.
Traffic congestion is a problem city planners have been trying to solve for more than a century. Various public transit systems have been put in place to alleviate the issue, but more work remains to be done. Investing in bicycle sharing programs is at the forefront of the attempts to reduce congestion, lower delays from collisions, make travel times more predictable, and improve the ability of city-dwellers to reach facilities and services in a safe, timely manner. Bicycles take less space on the road, are more maneuverable than motorized vehicles, and riders can communicate more efficiently. This makes traffic jams less likely to appear, and easier to solve once they do.
After discussing some of the benefits of bike sharing services, we will now examine what it takes to develop and run one. First, a sizable pool of vehicles has to be acquired to make the venture worthwhile for business owners. There are different ways of achieving this, including buying bikes in bulk directly from retailers or manufacturers at a discount, buying second-hand vehicles from dealers, and even collecting and re-purposing old and discarded bikes. Second, docking stations have to be constructed at convenient locations around town.University campuses, business districts and centers are some of the spots that every bike share services should cover. Third, an adequate pricing model must be developed to make bike sharing more worthwhile than just owning a bike. Subscription models with different tiers are a common practice in the business, in addition to one-time fees for single, time-limited rides. Finally, as is the case for all businesses, bike sharing companies need to implement a marketing strategy to promote their service. Promotional deals, placing advertisements on bikes, and social media marketing are some of the most common ways in which services like this attempt to reach an audience.
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