BlogCities6 reasons why cities should implement long-term bike rental
January 12, 2022

6 reasons why cities should implement long-term bike rental

By Fifteen
Long-term bike rental, in conjunction with or independent of an existing bike-sharing system, brings a host of benefits for the city and its citizens.

We’re all aware of the benefits of cycling: reduced congestion and noise pollution, lower carbon emissions and improved happiness and health for citizens.

It's a no-brainer.

Public bike-sharing schemes are a great way to democratise access to bikes, but there is another way for cities to increase the uptake of cycling.

1. Low operational costs and steady revenue

Long-term rental projects require a significantly smaller investment to run than traditional bike-sharing schemes. From an operational perspective, there’s no rebalancing of the fleet, much less vandalism, and no stations to invest in. Users pay a monthly fee, usually for a minimum of 3 months, creating a constant flow of revenue coming in each month.

All that’s required is:

  • An initial investment to acquire the bikes and spare parts
  • A warehouse for maintenance (although you can always partner with local bike shops for repairs)
  • A small team for recovering stolen bikes and making on-site repairs for users (if included in your offer)

Read : Why self-diagnosis features are important

Need help launching your long-term rental scheme?

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2. Inclusivity: connect rural areas and suburbs

Micromobility and pay-as-you-go bike-sharing doesn’t suit everyone. For example, not everyone lives near a public bike station, and there aren’t always micromobility vehicles right outside their door.

When demand ebbs and flows unpredictably - even with rebalancing efforts - people who travel regularly from A to B can’t rely on shared services.

Long-term rental is, therefore, a way to make cycling accessible to people who aren’t currently being served by bike-sharing or micromobility schemes.

With a scheme that serves a wider community, you extend the reach of cycling in your city.

The Paris region is spending €300m on a network of cycling highways to connect the the entire region of Ile de France. This is, in part, thanks to the success of the Veligo rental scheme.

3. Limit traffic congestion… and improve public transport

When you can solve citizens’ last mile problems with bikes, you will also reduce the number of cars going to train stations, or going straight to the city centre.

Congestion usually comes from poorly-connected parts of cities, the areas without regular and reliable public transport services. With a long-term rental scheme, you offer citizens in these areas a healthier and inexpensive alternative.  

Bike rental is a quality alternative that does not clutter public spaces, and can be easily integrated into the transportation network.

And, if your public transport network has saturated lines or routes, perhaps a rental scheme can alleviate some of this demand.

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Greater Epinal's long-term rental scheme.

4. Encourage people to buy their own bikes

Long-term rental is a great way for citizens to test out a bike before committing to a purchase. This is especially true for electric bikes, where the financial commitment is higher for the user.

It’s an important stepping stone because, on average, electric bike trips are longer than those of mechanical bikes. The further someone has to go, the more likely they are to take a car; and the correlation suggests that electric bikes will replace more car journeys than mechanical bikes.

According to a study by Ademe, 48% of long-term electric bike rental users were using the car on a daily basis to go to work before testing the bike. At the end of their rental period, just 18% went back to using a car (Evaluation study of bike services, Ademe, 2021).

5. Learn more about travel routes

You already know about the demand for your transport services; when and where people get on and off, how frequently etc. However, what do you know about the true travel patterns of all of your citizens?

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A heat map of the most travelled areas on Zoov bikes in Bordeaux.

When people use personal bikes, scooters or cars, you have no data on their journeys, nor can you understand how people move around the city.

With a fleet of connected bikes in a long-term rental offer, you will understand how your cities move around. Aggregating this data will allow you to:

  • Follow the usage of the service
  • Discover where the service is not used, and take steps to increase service penetration in these areas
  • Understand which routes are naturally used by users, and which ones could be used more often when appropriate improvements/facilities are implemented
  • Implement infrastructure to create a more bike-friendly environment (new bike lanes, special bike signs, etc.) based on observed usage
  • Understand the complementarity between a long-term leasing service and potential bike-sharing service already in place

Excited to see what data you could collect?

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6. Better ROI on cycling infrastructure

When launching a long-term rental service with connected electric bikes, you will be able to see - and measure - the modal shift to cycling, and evaluate the success of cycling infrastructure.

When you can prove the effectiveness of your investments through the data you collect from trips, you will be in an even better position to increase funding!

Read : Build a cycling-first culture without the cycle lanes

Interested in a long-term rental project?

We’re here to help! Whether you’re underway and just working out the details, or just thinking about launching one, you can always bounce some ideas off us.

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