Easy Rider: Bike-Sharing Programs


It’s getting easier to rent bikes in many cities across the nation, thanks to new bike-sharing programs in cities ranging from Minneapolis, to Boston, to Denver, to Chattanooga. It’s a simple system – bikes are rented from convenient kiosks where the rider pays using a credit or debit card and rents a bike for an hour or more. When done riding, simply drop the bike off at another kiosk. Most systems offer annual memberships in addition to a daily use pass.

Bike-sharing programs are spreading like wildfire across the U.S.; there are now more than 21,000 shared bikes in 36 metro areas, a big increase from only six bike-sharing programs only four years ago. And by the end of 2015, the number of bicycles in the sharing programs is expected to top 38,000.

Despite the rise in numbers and availability, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than half of the programs have had difficulties such as delayed launches, technical glitches, funding, supplier issues, and generating revenue to keep going.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: how many have ever used a bike-share program? What were their experiences?
  2. Discuss the barriers and challenges to establishing a city bike-sharing program.
  3. Divide students into teams and have each team select a bike-sharing program from different cities (e.g., New York, Chicago, Paris, Minneapolis, Denver, etc.)
  4. Have each team identify a target market. Then, have teams develop a list of benefits and value for the programs.
  5. Next, have each team develop a promotional campaign to increase riders and memberships. Make sure to integrate social media marketing into the campaigns.

Source:   Wall Street Journal, Forbes

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