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What Can We Learn From the Sharing Economy & the Global Bike-share Boom?

April 17, 2019

The sharing economy has become an important aspect of our daily lives, from Air BnB to Uber, some of the companies with the highest growth all involve an element of sharing resources; with many other products and amenities being shared and leased.

The sharing economy, also known as the access economy and peer-to-peer economy is a model of consumption whereby goods and services are not owned by a single user, in our case it would be the bikes and scooters. Rather, goods and services under this model are used temporarily by members of a network who share the assets, sometimes for a fee or for free.

More recently city-bike and scooter sharing and schemes have also taken off in cities around the world in Europe the US and Asia; with rapid growth and an explosion of players into unknown territory, the industry has started to face both new developments and challenges over the last 3 years.

All things considered, recent news came as a shock to many that Ofo, Chinese bikeshare giant and one of the sector’s most dominant players, is facing insolvency.

Last month, reports circulated about how Belgian GobeeBike were planning to close its Brussels branch; citing huge challenges regarding regulatory crackdowns on the spread of biking docks and abandoned scooters in other cities such as London and Melbourne.


Superficially, the difficulties faced by these scooter & bike sharing companies are most likely the same as the regular difficulties experienced by start-ups. Be that as it may, bicycle sharing companies also shared-resource based companies, which add an extra element and long-term expense into the mix.

The sharing of assets on a platform, for this situation, bikes and scooters, include the utilisation of physical resources. Unlike Sharing-app counterparts Air BnB and Uber, who profit off of using other people’s vehicles and property. This has implications for the company involving asset ownership and management including investment ventures, inventory tracking, as well as maintenance and general repairs.

There has also been a huge uptake in city-wide guidelines, which have been somewhat recently implemented to try to deal with the negative implications of bike and scooter sharing activities. These have added to the sector’s daily running expenses, parking, storage and collection all have to be shouldered by the company in operating costs.


In order to be successful, later generations of last-mile public transport should consider several operational and administrative issues such as collection and storage in their business models.

The bike sharing industry’s focused on quick consumer acquisition, which may have prompted previous companies defeats. Gaining from this, e-bike companies will do well to consider a steadier client procurement approach, growing only with more experience and a sturdy client base of regular users.

E-bikes and scooters ought to also be found with regards to supplementing and upgrading general transportation in the local area, for instance, placing docking stations in between metro stations and transport terminals to business districts and residential areas.

Finding and analysing data that highlights consumer patterns will be critical to securing its valuable in the market and sustainability of its business.

Having access to data on demand, start-ups will be in a better position to upgrade its estimated pricing models for differing times and according to demand for every demographic.

Starting with a city-by-city approach will allow for a gradual growth according to economies of scale. The popularity of bike and scooter sharing services and their sharp decline in cities such as Brussels offers lessons for both legislators and start-ups hoping to solve China’s transport puzzle.

On the off chance that e-bike companies and their investors avoid rapid expansion for market share within a city or district and instead focuses on:

  • Developing a sound client base and retention.
  • Creating and sticking to a sustainable business model.

Companies and cities will have a better chance at building a successful company and means of developing green transportation.

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