Perspectives on the Growing Market for Public Bicycles: Focus on France and the UK

Perspectives on the Growing Market for Public Bicycles: Focus on France and the UK


B Beroud, Mobiped, FR; R Clavel, Certu, FR; S Le Vine, Imperial College London, UK


French cities have deeply contributed to the spread of the public bicycle services. England is pursuing the trend with the implementation of a large scale service in London. This paper discusses the outcomes, lessons learned and the perspectives.


The "servicised" bicycle could perhaps be considered one of the more significant personal mobility innovations of the past decade. From a single public bicycles service operating in 2000 in Rennes, the number of services has grown to more than 460 worldwide (including major cities in middle-income countries) in the space of a decade. Due to the timely convergence of various social and technological trends, and despite the passage of five decades since the first pilot program, public bicycles services have affirmatively entered the transport policy agenda in recent years. Whilst Paris' VĂ©lib? system is perhaps most widely-known, similar (and ever-more-refined) schemes are appearing on the streets of a wide variety of cities and towns, with an equally-diverse range of service models and a growing number of adaptations to suit different urban contexts.

In this paper, we first present a global review of the public bicycles concept and the pathway through which the present situation has arisen. We then analyse and contrast the French market?s 32 operational services with the embryonic British market, in terms of operators, contracts, local authorities? initiatives and present lessons from Paris, Rennes, London and Blackpool. And we list successes and limits of public bicycles. Finally, we discuss each country?s market potential and prospects for the future development of public bicycles systems generally.


Association for European Transport