The Economic Contribution of Public Bike-share to the Sustainability and Efficient Functioning of Cities

Authors: Dr. Craig Bullock, Dr. Finbarr Brereton, and Sive Bailey
Date published: January 2017
Research commissioned by: University College Dublin

Why did we select this research?

An expanding literature has explored the benefits of public bike-share schemes from various perspectives, including user characteristics, journey time savings, convenience, health benefits and reductions in motor vehicle use. However, rather few papers have examined bike-share schemes in economic terms. This research places these benefits in an economic context of private individual benefits and public good benefits.

Key findings:

  • Level of modal shift from cars to bicycles has been slight (most transfers have been from public transport, walking or taxis).
  • The more important benefit is realized by allowing cities to function more efficiently (achieved firstly by reducing journey time, an outcome that is both a private benefit to users and a public good benefit).
  • The fundamental source of these benefits is the gain to productivity that arises from the positive relationship between journey time, urban compactness, employment and economic activity.
  • Subsequent further expansion of the scheme into areas where other traffic moves more smoothly may not result in the same increase in use such that there is more of a convergence between benefits and costs.


Bullock, C., Brereton, F., & Bailey, S. (2017). The economic contribution of public bike-share to the sustainability and efficient functioning of cities. Sustainable cities and society, 28, 76-87. Retrieved from: