Bikesharing and the future of citycenters

It seems like bicycles are growing out of the ground overnight. Of course, that’s not the case, but have you also noticed the amount of bikes on the streets, and maybe want to know why bikesharing systems could solve some of our environmental issues? Read on and you’ll find the answers to these questions.

A solution for the congested streets in cities is urgently needed. Cars and people are getting more and more. Their fumes and noise endanger not only human health, but also those of other living beings and the environment.

The potential of bike-sharing systems

Foto: Elias Willenig

A convenient, cheap and efficient way of cycling could solve some problems. There would be less congestion, less bad mood, fewer people on public transport and cars and, most importantly, less greenhouse gases like CO2 that heat our earth.

Bike rental systems like Ofo, Mobike or Donkeybike have conquered big cities like Madrid. One might think we should all be happy about this new possibility. But that’s not quite the case, because more and more people complain about bicycles turning into garbage.

This video explains why more and more people are not enthusiastic about the growing number of bicycles to borrow. The criticism is justified, because when wheels land in rivers, roads are blocked, garbage disposal companies lose patience, then something goes wrong.

The cause of the problem

Bikesharing systems are a typical example of a sharing economy. It is a way to prohibit the accumulation of stuff we hardly need,  to restrict your own consumption, to conserve resources and to borrow the required items as needed.

Many of us know for sure that we do not live alone on this earth and that garbage does not dissolve in the air. Unfortunately, not all people cautiously deal with the possession of others but use the opportunity to destroy allegedly.

It is precisely this behavior that blocks the way for innovative systems such as a sharing economy. Often, and in this case as well, it is our own behavior that hinders the success of such services. In addition, nobody wants a bicycle cemetery on the local streets.

Potential to improve

Data

When you create an account, you must provide personal information so that the bike can be tracked. In the digital world as we know it today, we leave many traces. This data is of particular interest to companies who want to study our behavior in order to adapt their offer to our needs, but also to sell things we would not normally buy.

They are a currency that is pulled out of our pockets as consumers. It is even more important that bikesharing systems ensure that they do not share data and that consumers do not have to worry about their privacy as a basic human right.


Credit card

Only people who own a credit card can borrow bicycles. That excludes many people who might also like to use this service and could reduce emissions. This obstacle can certainly be out of the way to remove even more cars from the streets.

Better controls and maintenance

Bikesharing companies need to ensure that the bicycles do not transform into garbage, that they keep in good condition and can be used often. Otherwise it is possible that this system harvests even more criticism and a really good way to protect the environment slips through our hands. This also requires that we as consumers have to be careful with the temporary companions, or maintenance will never have an end.

My bike test

If you feel like swinging yourself on a rented saddle, I share my rating with you here. I tested 3 systems and found a clear favorite.

Ofo is one of the bike sharing systems where you can leave the bike in many public places. What you need to borrow a bike is a smart phone that can scan a QR code and a credit card. You also need an account with the respective provider

ofo

Facilities: very good

Price: very cheap 4 hours 2.50

Comfort: simply park in a central location

App: clear and simple

O bike

Equipment: no gearshift

Price: cheap, the first ride is like at ofo free

Comfort: good, everywhere off

App: complicated and confusing

Donkey bike

Equipment: good, but unnecessary coaster brake

Price: in comparison expensive, for 6 hours 12 Euro

Comfort: ok, you have to bring the bike back

App: ok

Even though I’m a big fan of bikesharing systems, especially here in Madrid, where I do not have my own, the discussion about bikes is justified. Constructive Criticism is the foundation of innovation and an important step on our way to a healthy planet.

 

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