BlogCitiesHow much does a bike sharing scheme impact the modal shift in transport?
December 7, 2022

How much does a bike sharing scheme impact the modal shift in transport?

By Fifteen
A central question in the construction of your cycling policy should be how much impact does your cycling scheme have on the modal shift in transport? Are your users shifting from fossil-fuelled vehicles to sustainable transport modes?

What are the tools and methods that cities and regions use to measure the impact of a cycling scheme. This article dives into everything you need to know in order to create your own study to measure the modal shift to sustainable transport.

Where to start? Existing methodologies and studies that measure modal shift

Cerema Household and Long-term Studies

Cerema can help you to draw up an assessment of the travel habits of your constituents via two types of studies with proven methodologies: Household Travel Surveys (HTS) and Light Travel Surveys (LTS).

These surveys take the form of interviews, and the main difference between an EMD and an EDA is the wealth of information collected.

Indeed, an EMD collects responses from your constituents face-to-face (whereas a DEA collects them by telephone) and over a longer period of time than a DEA (20 weeks of survey versus 6 weeks for a DEA).

The aim is to compare key indicators over several years (modal shares, reasons for travel, household motorisation, etc.).

These surveys are exhaustive and allow for a precise measurement of the travel patterns of a given population. However, they cover all modes of travel, so it is in your interest to create your own dashboard measuring the modal shift of your bicycle service.

5 Steps to Launching a Bike-Sharing Service

Download the Guide

ADEME Studies

ademe-gep-logo-1584025856 (1).jpg
Rendez-vous sur le site de l'Ademe pour accéder gratuirement à toutes les études sur la mobilité des personnes.

One of the best examples you can use to measure modal shift is the Ademe study (in french) "Update of the bicycle services evaluation study - Diagnostic report" dated 2021.

In short, the methodology of this study consists of 3 main steps:

  1. Evaluate the modal share of bicycle, car and public transport users of bicycle services
  2. Measure the impact on car use and ownership (quantify the car miles saved, the impact on the purchase or sale of cars by users)
  3. Translate these saved miles into positive impacts (CO2 savings, health impact)

Here is one of the deliverables of the 2021 study that covered a wide variety of bicycle services:

Frame 443.png
Decrease in car use among people of bicycle services, among those who have reduced their use (km/month) - Source: Update of the bicycle services evaluation study - Diagnostic report, ADEME, 2021.

In the case of this study, respondents who stated that they had reduced their car use as a result of using bicycle services were asked to estimate this reduction in km driven per month.

An average was calculated by type of service.

Here, the users of the long-term rented ECVs declared that they had reduced their car use by 188 km per month! (i.e. about 6 km/3.7mi per day).

How can you measure the modal shift that is a direct result of your bike-sharing service?

You can draw on existing studies to construct your own specific study, focusing on the travel patterns of your users.

You can focus on the daily trips of your population (Monday to Friday), and then include weekend trips, or even tourist trips.

Sample questions to measure the modal shift

To study daily trips, for example, you can look at the trips of the residents who subscribe to your bicycle service from Monday to Friday as soon as they subscribe to the service:

  • Household composition
  • Household address
  • Household modes of travel
  • Reasons for travelling from Monday to Friday (work, taking the children to school, etc.)
  • Modes of travel associated with these reasons from Monday to Friday
  • Distance travelled per mode of travel Monday to Friday

Then repeat this study 6 months and 1 year after subscription to compare your results, and understand the level of impact your scheme is having on the modal shift of transport.

How should you conduct a study which measures the modal shift ?


The administration of the questionnaire depends on the budget you want to spend on it. A field survey will cost more than a survey sent to users' mailboxes. The important thing here is to have a sufficiently large base of respondents (in relation to your total user population) to ensure that the survey is representative.

A cost-effective study

There are many free software packages that can help you build simple and user-friendly questionnaires. Even complex questionnaires (e.g. conditional questions) are possible with little or no training. The answers will be collected automatically in a spreadsheet.

Simple communication channels to promote your study:

  • Email  
  • Social Media Networks
  • Your bike-sharing service app (using push notifications is a simple way to communicate your survey)

Encourage your users to participate in the study

Conducting a survey remotely can be difficult because of a lack of motivation from your users to respond.

Especially since the primary purpose of the survey will not be to improve the service in the short term.

It is therefore wise to allocate part of your budget to rewards for people who respond to the survey. Free minutes or months of subscription work well as a motivator.

Who could help me organise a modal shift study?

- Some organisations and suppliers of bike-sharing services, such as Fifteen, offer these studies to cities and regions who are interested in driving impact in their area.

- You can also go through a research company, we recommend using one that specialises in mobility.

Discover how you can improve your transport networks

Contact us

Be the first to know about the insights we have from operating 50,000 bikes in 25+ cities across the globe