Agora Verkehrswende

Bike Sharing in a State of Transition

Action recommendations for German cities and municipalities in dealing with dockless systems.

- translated version February 2020, originally published in June 2018 -

Today there is hardly a European capital that cannot be explored on a dockless shared bike.

The initial public response was often marked by skepti-cism: These bicycles, according to some critical voices, would “clutter up” the limited public space in our city centers, while our own station-based bike sharing sys-tems would suffer under the competition with the new bike providers, which for the most part do not coordinate their activities with cities.On the other hand, the companies offering dockless bike sharing provide an opportunity to promote and bolster bicycling as part of a larger strategy for sustainable urban transport. The significance of the bicycle as a means of transport has grown enormously, especially over the past few years. One indication of this is the growing number of initiatives that are calling for referendums in support of bicycling.

Against this backdrop, we have been looking – as have many of the country’s municipalities – at the question of whether and how these new dockless bike sharing services can make a contribution to a more sustainable urban transport system. We are therefore happy, together with our partners, the German Cyclists‘ Association (ADFC), the Association of German Cities (DST) and the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB), to present to you this publication "Bike Sharing in a State of Transition", a first guidebook on how to deal with the new mobility services.The guidebook is directed primarily at stakeholders in politics and municipal administration. It is meant to show how cities and municipalities and dockless bike sharing providers can work together to make use of the opportunities presented by these new mobility services and minimize risks through cooperation.

Due to the dynamic development of the new bike sharing services, we see this guidebook as a living document that can serve as a basis for further discussion. The four publishers of this guidebook also see it as a foundation for dialogue with mobility companies, which we intend to expand on in the coming months, in part to decide if and when the guidebook should be updated.