Polis members talked bike sharing schemes at workshop in Brussels on 10 September 2014

Following up on the request made by several Polis members, a workshop on bike sharing schemes was held on September 10th 2014 in Brussels.

Over the past 10 years we have witnessed a bike sharing boom in small and large cities across Europe. New business models and more advanced technologies have been developed and tested since the launch of Bicing in Barcelona in 2007 and Vélib' in Paris in 2011.

The European-funded project OBIS - Optimising Bike Sharing in European Cities ( which ended in 2011 have assessed 50 bike sharing schemes all over Europe with the aim to provide decision makers, municipalities, practitioners, operators, etc. with information and recommendations to implementing and optimising bike sharing schemes.

Despite the wealth of publicly available information out there and on the Internet, yet cities need a space for dialogue to exchange among peers. "What is missing is cities talking to cities" said Dr. Julius Menge, Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. Data on cycle hire scheme use are often difficult to collect. “Service operators are very secretive about data and don’t share these with local authorities” said Frederick Depoortere, Brussels Capital Region. “It’s a small industry” said James Hiett, Transport for London “It’s through cities that you can get information on the prices. People are still struggling to understand what the best business model is.”

The Polis working group workshop looked at various aspects of bicycle sharing schemes, including:

  • Business models;
  • Contact with contractors: Bidding procedure, supplier selection and contracting;
  • System and fleet maintenance and management;
  • Use of new technologies (e.g. pedelecs, electronic locks);
  • Measures to tackle security and vandalism;
  • Information and campaigns.

Brussels and London gave an overview of their bike sharing scheme, payment integration, use of innovative technologies and apps to best meet user needs, expansion plans, and next steps as London is going to launch a new tender in 2017 and Brussels is considering using pedelecs (electrically assisted bicycles).

Madrid and Budapest were very excited to introduce their newly launched bike sharing schemes: BiciMAD was launched in June 2014 and works with pedelecs; BuBi (Budapest Bicycle) was opened to the public on September 8th.

Blue Mobility introduced the Blue Bike scheme which is located at several train stations in Flanders and in four cities in Wallonia. It was interesting to hear about a different business model and cycling service targeting train commuters or business people, rather than residents.

The European Cyclists’ Federation presented their upcoming Policy Report on Bike sharing and possible themes that could be addressed.

The newly launched European-funded project Velocittà presented their Bike Sharing Workspace which aims to become the online portal where to find bike sharing information, expertise, tried & tested campaign ideas, Cost-Benefit Analysis and all sort of information on bike sharing for cities and professionals.

Other cities which have joined the lively discussion are: Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Arnhem Nijmegen City Region, Ghent, Eindhoven, Stuttgart Region, Emilia-Romagna Region. The event also saw the participation of representatives of Fietsberaad Vlaanderen, London’s European Office, and London European Partnership for Transport.

This working group will meet up again in the first half of 2015 to continue the fruitful know-how exchange among cities.

Join the working group on bike sharing schemes!

For information and to join the working group on bike sharing schemes, please contact Florinda Boschetti via e-mail at or by phone +32 (0)2 500 56 74.