Bicycles: the symbol of sustainable cities
Cities around the world have been undergoing a change in recent years. Cities are turning into more sustainable living spaces. One of the main drivers of this situation is the effects of climate change. Cities and climate change are interrelated in many ways. According to an OECD report published in 2020, urban areas are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and one third of greenhouse gas emissions in major cities is generated by transportation. This makes it essential to offer more sustainable transportation options in urban areas.
Among sustainable transportation systems, bike sharing is an alternative that has gained importance especially in recent years at a global scale. The most important reason for this is the potential that bike sharing systems offer for cities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Shared bicycle systems offer many benefits, from creating new job opportunities to creating healthy lifestyles. Thus, they contribute to many Sustainable Development Goals at the same time.
Is it always sustainable?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The lack of sustainable business plans leads to many problems. An example of this situation has been seen in China. For many years, bike sharing companies in China have increased the number of bicycles on the streets in order to have a greater share in the market. However, some of these companies had to go bankrupt due to competitive market conditions. As a result of this, the bikes of the bankrupt company become unusable and generate waste.
The video below highlights the enormity of the waste bike problem.
No Place To Place – The Wonders of Shared Bicycle Graveyards in China by Guoyong Wu
The solution: Sustainable Business Models
Shared bike companies without the right business plan harm every aspect of sustainable development. In addition to the damage caused by the enormous amount of waste bicycles to nature, there are also economic and social damages.
What needs to be done to overcome these problems is that the sharing bike companies establish their business models in a sustainable way. Shared bike companies established with sustainable business models will contribute to revealing the potential of sustainable transportation. The shared bike system is a business line within the sharing economy. While creating business models, the value network should be prepared in this context. Local socio-economic conditions should also be taken into account. A business model that will be created by evaluating all natural, social, and economic conditions will provide optimum profit to the stakeholders.
Today, many shared bike companies are starting to develop ideas for the end-of-life stage of bicycles. Many companies are already publishing sustainability reports and presenting their contribution to sustainability in their operations. The spread of this situation around the world will make a significant contribution to achieving the goal of sustainable cities.