A recent study in 50 U.S. cities (with the intriguing title ‘free wheel, free will!’) shows that bike sharing programs significantly increase bicycle commuting by an extra 20% over a period of 9 years. In the same period car commuting dropped from 66% to 59%, indicating that people at least partially exchanged cars for bicycles. The effects were stronger in larger cities with more commuters and larger sharing programs (in most other respects, differences beween both types of cities were insignificant). In cities with smaller or without bike sharing programs, people may be afraid that their bikes are stolen or find it more dangerous to commute by bike. In general, cities with bike sharing programs improve infrastructure with safe, dedicated bike lanes in close cooperation with sharing companies; the willingness of city governments to do so will no doubt be among the reasons for these companies to invest. It is a clear example of Say’s Law, popularised as ‘supply creates its own demand’. Not surprisingly, it also indicates that city governments can stimulate bike commuting by creating proper infrastructure to attract bike sharing companies. Thus far, it only marks a small start: bike commuting only increased from slighlty more than 1% in 2008 to 1,7% in 2016.
Read more on Fast Company - Do bike-share programs actually increase bike commuting? Here’s what 10 years of data tells us and Dafeng Xu - Free Wheel, Free Will! The Effects of Bikeshare Systems on Urban Commuting Patterns in the U.S.