Bike share schemes grow in popularity as new report reveals multiple benefits

More than 54,000 daily rides were taken on shared bikes last year with the schemes helping to boost physical and mental health, save people money and improve connectivity.

A new report by the national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) shows bike share schemes recorded nearly 20 million hires between September 2021 and 2022 – an average of 54,285 per day.

It is up from 41,599 daily hires in the previous 12 months, with the number of locations of schemes across the UK also growing from 39 to 43.

The annual report, which surveyed more than 2,000 active users, revealed the health benefits of bike sharing as 84% of respondents said it provided them with exercise.

Almost three quarters of respondents said the schemes benefitted their mental health, and 61% said shared bikes had saved them money.

More than 1.3 million people used, joined or renewed their membership of a bike share scheme in the UK last year.

The most common regular purpose for trips was commuting and work-related travel, and more than half of respondents said they also used shared bikes for exercise, leisure and visiting friends and family.

The study also found that the popularity of e-bikes continues to rise, with more than 6 million e-bike hires last year.

Nearly 12,000 e-bikes were available to hire via shared schemes at the end of September, up from around 5,000 the year before.

When asked for their reasons for renting an e-bike, 48% of respondents said it reduced journey time, 36% said it tackled physical barriers like cycling up hills, and 34% did it to avoid fatigue or getting sweaty.

CoMoUK’s report estimated that an average of 71kg of carbon dioxide emissions are cut per year by every bike share user.

The charity said its findings show that bike share schemes are a key tool in achieving the UK’s net zero ambition.

Domestic transport remains the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

CoMoUK also said shared bikes can help improve people’s physical health and mental wellbeing, while also saving them money.

Other key findings include:

  • 66% of bike share users said they have been cycling more often since joining a scheme, rising to 69% for those who use e-bikes.
  • 80% said bike sharing takes away the worry of theft that comes with owning a bike, and 74% said it removed concerns around bike maintenance and storage.
  • 35% use a bike share scheme for commuting at least once a week.
  • 37% would have otherwise made their common bike share journey by car.
  • 64% combine bike share with other means of transport like bus or train rides.
  • 24% of users were from low-income groups on £20,000 a year or less, which shows how bike sharing can improved access to mobility for disadvantaged communities.

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Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, said: “The findings of our latest report show that bike share schemes, including shared e-bikes, continue to grow in popularity due to their many personal benefits.

“Shared bikes support health and wellbeing by increasing physical activity, and they give people an affordable travel option. They also trigger sustainable travel habits and help to cut car use, ultimately reducing the number of cars on our roads.

“Shared transport such as bike share schemes, along with car clubs, demand responsive transport and e-scooters, will be crucial in helping the UK reach its net zero ambition.”

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