1.68 - The Potential of Bike Sharing in Increasing Sustainable Mobility in Cities

Project Description

Urban transport systems currently face two major challenges. Firstly, the imperative of decarbonization, where a transition to a low carbon society is only realistically achievable with a major reduction in car use. Secondly, the present coronavirus pandemic that has particularly affected public transport networks, with ridership levels falling to historic lows due to infection fears, risking a steep rise in car use that would further jeopardize decarbonization efforts.
Thus, other modes of transport need to be considered. Taking advantage of new technological advances and the promotion of cycling as an alternative to cars in urban areas, bike sharing systems (BSS) have seen an incredible growth in recent years, with more and more cities looking at bike sharing as a possible path to increase the sustainability of their transport systems. Such systems are particularly suitable for complementing public transport, including by providing an alternative transport during disruptive events such as COVID-19. Furthermore, BSS can also contribute to tackle the present overreliance on car use, either by directly shifting car users to bike sharing or by improving cycling conditions in the city.
This PhD research aims at understanding the potential contribution of bike sharing in tackling these two challenges. The objectives of this research are twofold. First, to assess the major factors explaining the current modal shift dynamics to bike sharing, segmenting the BSS users according to the modes of transport that they are replacing by BSS and identifying their major motivations. Second, this research will investigate how the coronavirus has affected BSS and the role that such systems can have during infectious public health crises like COVID-19, namely by providing a viable transport alternative where social distancing can be maintained.
In this research, we will follow an explanatory sequential mixed methods design, which consists in first conducting a quantitative analysis (a travel behaviour survey) with the results obtained from this phase guiding the second qualitative phase (interviews). The insights of this PhD thesis are expected to provide support to researchers and policymakers on how to maximize the effectiveness of bike sharing in increasing both the sustainability and resilience of urban transport systems.

Research team
  • João Filipe Teixeira
  • Cecília Silva (supervisor)
  • Frederico Moura e Sá (co-supervisor)

Financial Support
  • FCT: PD/BD/146494/2019
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2023