Bikeshare Programs Are Getting More Commuters Onto Two Wheels

A growing number of cities, campus communities, and employers are embracing bikeshare programs as alternative commuting options. Bikes offer an environmentally-friendly mode of active transportation that puts practically no impact stress on the body’s joints, all while delivering a healthy dose of aerobic exercise. Yet, start-up costs can be a barrier to participation. A decent-quality commuter bike can easily cost several hundred dollars, which can seem like a significant investment if someone isn’t sure they’ll enjoy biking to work. This is one of the major reasons bikeshare networks have taken off in recent years.

While specifics vary, bikeshare programs generally work the same way. Most allow registered users to use a smartphone app to unlock a bike, ride for a pre-set length of time, then secure the bike at or near the rider’s destination, paying a nominal fee for the time the bike is in use. These programs offer a cost-effective advantage to commuters, as riders can access a bike for low pay-per-use rates, thus avoiding the need to sink hundreds of dollars into a bike of their own. It also solves other practical challenges, since riders don’t have to commit to bike ownership and thus don’t have to worry about issues like secure storage at home or on the road.

The leading bikeshare networks in the United States include:

  • Zagster: Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zagster is one of the largest programs in the U.S., with more than 100 active programs currently in place.
  • Jump Bikes: This innovative system of dockless electric bikes was recently acquired by Uber.
  • Spin: Another dockless bikeshare system, Spin also launched an electric scooter-sharing program in recent months.
  • LimeBike: LimeBike is focused on creating a human-scale shared mobility fleet, including both traditional and electric bike options, e-scooters, and more.

The RideAmigos commuter management platform offers a wide range of features that can incorporate and complement bikeshare programs, making it an ideal tool for managing alternative commuting initiatives. RideAmigos works with employers, government agencies, educational institutions, and other organizations, and we’ve already played a leading role in the implementation of many successful commuter programs. If you’re looking for a for a toolkit to help manage emerging mobility options like bikeshares, fun challenges like National Bike Month, incentive programs, and more, get started with RideAmigos to find out what we can do for you.

Six Cool Facts About the New Waves of Bikeshare


Bikes Make Life Better is a consulting firm dedicated to helping large organizations to put people on bikes. Kurt Wallace, Co-Founder and Director, discusses the potential for the future of public and private bikeshare. He likens the proliferation of bikeshare systems to that of the use of cell phones, “First there was one cell phone, and now there are a zillion different kinds.”

Many conventional public bikeshare systems share these features:

  • Large systems – thousands of bikes.
  • Public systems that are reliant on stations.

Private bikeshare, in contrast, seems to get less attention in the modern bikeshare era.

A good example of the practicality that private bikeshare has to offer is Facebook’s use of the system. Facebook offers “different trip types and different needs” for its employees with an inventory of bikes that are faster, lighter, and have different gear settings.

Kurt identifies the need that hotels might have for mission-based private bikeshare.“The underlying idea is the same: someone arrives at your facility, your city, your hotel and they need transportation. In a lot of cases we don’t want someone to bring their own car… It makes perfect sense for the place you’re staying to provide you with bikeshare – a fleet of bikes designed for certain trip types.”

There is also a security component to bikeshare programs. “There are lots of reasons why you’ve seen more and more cops on bikes. They can get to things faster, they’re closer to the ground. For one thing, they can hear.” These benefits are not confined to private corporations, they can be advantageous to municipalities and state agencies as well.

A loaner fleet is a system in which a facility manages a fleet of bikes that can be checked out on an individual basis.

“Dude, where’s my bike?”

“Using your smartphone you can check this bike out, from wherever you find it. I check out the bike, I ride it away, and I leave it somewhere else, not at a dock, but just locked properly inside the service area.” This is what Kurt introduces as the next generation of bikeshare technology. It exists in Phoenix, Arizona. The entire configuration attached to each individual bike allows the user to check out a single bike from any location.

In the lock 8 system, the locks report to GPS, allowing the whole system to run on one bike. “The key difference here of course, is you can use any kind of bike. Picture citybike where we started: this big heavy thing, all the bikes look the same. Suddenly, the bikes don’t look the same and I can have different kinds of bikes.”

”Last, but not least: pilots are cool,” Kurt concludes. “You start with whatever you need, prove the case, and then expand on it really simply.”

Bikeshare systems offer seamless multi-modal solutions to many contemporary Transportation Demand Management challenges.

RideAmigos offers the perfect platform to promote multi-modal collaboration with bikeshare systems. Together, they pave the way for less congestion, less pollution, and a happier commute.