Bicycle sharing: researching its impact in urban areas

03 June 2021

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Growth of bicycle sharing has been facilitated by technological and market innovation as well as the capital to promote and develop the schemes

June 3rd is World Bicycle Day, a day intended to promote cycling for sport and health, but also to encourage its many possible social, equity, and environmental outcomes.

The concept of bicycle sharing systems were
defined in the 60’s

Researcher Cyrille Médard De Chardon of the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) recent book chapter entitled “Bicycle Sharing” was published in May 2021 in the 1st edition of the “International Encyclopedia of Transportation”. In his chapter, Cyrille describes the recent history of bicycle sharing systems (BSS), of which Luxembourg City and Esch’s current systems (launched in 2008/2009) were early adopters.

While the BSS concept was defined in the 60’s, their presence has become common in medium and large urban cores, particularly in Europe, the United States and Eastern China. Growth has been facilitated by technological and market innovation providing automated self-service, through the association of users to bicycles, as well as the capital to promote and develop the schemes. However, while bicycle sharing is accepted as convenient and facilitating first and last-mile transportation, overstated or contradictory impacts relating to equity, health, environmental sustainability, road congestion, and success exist.

“While an exciting development, the overall evaluation of BSS is that they are at best somewhat useful for some and at worst a distraction. Given the existing carbon emission and ecological crises, pro-cycling initiatives, such as BSS, new cycle tracks outside cities, or new paint delineating urban cycling spaces, are insufficient as long as they are an alternative rather than one means of automobility replacement.”

Cyrille Médard De Chardon

Research Profile

Cyrille holds a PhD in Science and Geography from the Université catholique de Louvain and University of Luxembourg (under the supervision of Geoffrey Caruso and Isabelle Thomas). His dissertation focused on a mixed-mehtods evaluation of the potential and impacts of bicycle sharing systems, as well as the politics and purposes of these new and highly promoted means of urban transportation. His dissertation was awarded the 2017 PhD award by the Network on European Communications and Transport Activity Research (NECTAR).

His current research interests are evaluating Smart City initiatives, smart-mobility, studying new urban mobility structures and governance types, car-free cities, and the potential of sensors for citizen empowerment.

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