UK bike share schemes reduce car mileage, claims report

Cycling, Transport
Bike share schemes are soaring in popularity. Image: Transport for London

The growing popularity of bike-share schemes across the UK has reduced car mileage for each user by an estimated 3.7 miles every week.

The findings in a new report by Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) have revealed how the country’s 39 schemes are attracting more people back to cycling, delivering mental and physical health benefits, and helping the environment.

The study has also found that electric bikes (e-bikes) are soaring in popularity because they reduce journey times and help riders to tackle hills – with the bikes now appealing to all generations. More than half of users (53 per cent) said they would have made their last trip by car or taxi if a bike share had not been available.

The results have been published in the sixth annual bike share report from national shared transport charity CoMoUK, which reveals there were 22,789 bikes in operation last year and 41,599 average trips made each day.

With 39 schemes established, new sites introduced in 2021 included Cambridge and York, while 21 locations now have e-bikes – including 12 which are solely for electric cycles.

More than 4,000 users took part in the research for the report. CoMoUK said the findings prove that bike share schemes are a key tool in the UK’s journey to net-zero and can help improve the country’s physical health and mental wellbeing.

Says Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK:

“The findings of this report have proved that bike share is a catalyst to re-engaging with cycling. Bike share supports health and wellbeing, triggers sustainable travel behaviours, cuts car miles and works alongside bike ownership.

“There are many personal benefits of taking up cycling and it’s encouraging to see e-bikes becoming increasingly popular – with no significant age differences between e-bike riders and the whole group, demonstrating their appeal to all generations.

“Ultimately, if we are to achieve our ambitious net-zero targets, we need to address the issue of private vehicle ownership, which massively contributes to the UK’s emissions.

“Shared transport such as bike share schemes, along with car clubs, demand-responsive transport and e-scooters, alongside public transport, are the key to achieving our goals.”

CoMoUK is a charity that promotes the environmental, economic, health and social benefits of shared transport for the public good. More information available here report can be read here.

Key findings include:
49% of users said that joining a bike share scheme was a catalyst to them cycling for the first time in at least a year – including 6% who took up cycling for the first time.
53% said they would have made their last trip by car or taxi if bike share had not been available.
34% of those using e-bikes said they were replacing car or taxi trips of more than five miles per week (compared to 24% of non e-bike users)
On average, per user, there was an estimated reduction of 3.7 car miles and 1kg of CO2e every week.
20% of respondents said that bike share was the only moderate to vigorous exercise they got on a weekly basis. 
Chris Price
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