Bike share systems are being adopted, and have been succeeding, in a number of cities across the globe, in part thanks to the lessons learned over the years from Amsterdam's successful bicycle sharing program, first implemented in 1965. Although the early years of bike share programs were fairly small in scope and full of experimentation and improvements based on adjusting to trial and error results, over time, the concept of bike sharing began to catch on in other urban regions across Europe, and has now gone big in some large cities.
Public bike share systems can offer increased mobility and flexibility in transportation options for city dwellers, reduce the carbon footprint of transport, and can relieve traffic congestion as well as increase road safety, while also serving as a critical piece of the 'last mile' sustainable transportation puzzle. And while some western cities have managed to follow the best practices for creating and scaling up bike share systems to create functional and efficient pedal-powered mobility options, in other highly-populated parts of the world, such cities in India, with their vast and growing number of residents, the implementation of city-wide bike sharing networks has not been nearly as successful.
While small pilot bike share programs have been run in several Indian cities, such as Mumbai and Delhi, none of them have managed to be able to scale up to effectively meet the transportation needs of the population without failing. According to TheCityFix, part of the reason for the failure of these bike share programs is that while they were begun and led by individuals with the best of intentions, without the backing of "significant government support," the programs were unable to expand to the critical mass necessary to make a real difference for their users.
Author Ranjana Menon offers five key lessons that Indian cities should follow in order to build successful bike sharing programs, including the need for implementing large-scale initiatives instead of small programs, investing in quality hardware (and software), and the importance of adapting bike share systems to the "unique aspects of the Indian urban context." The full piece is available here: Five Lessons for Making Bike Share a Success in India
Image by Rahul Lakade