Roland Berger: Bike sharing to grow to 5.3 billion

12 January 2015

Bike-sharing is becoming ever more popular. Recent research by Roland Berger finds that by 2020 the market for bike-sharing will grow to €5.3 billion. Electronic bike-sharing with locks that can be opened with a smartphone are among changes coming to shake up the bike market.

European and especially American cities are seeing bike-sharing as increasingly popular ways of moving from A to B. With many cities introducing ambitious plans to expand the bike-networks, special “bike-stations” are being created that are found throughout cities, where bikes can be hired at any time. Roland Berger discusses its research results in ‘Shared mobility, how new businesses are rewriting the rules of the private transportation game’, finding that by 2020 the market value of bike-sharing could be worth €5.3 billion.

Parked bikes

Old Idea, anew
As it stands, 533 cities around the world take part in bike-sharing. New York already has 6,000 shared bikes spread across 300 bike-stations. In Paris there are 18,380 bikes that can be picked up and dropped off as needed by those in need of a ride, with Antwerpen set to release 1,800 bikes at 150 stations shortly.

Bike sharing is however not particularly new. In Amsterdam, Luud Schimmelpennink, a social and industrial innovator, developed the idea in 1965. He painted 20 bikes white and put them on the street, their use free. Since they weren’t locked, the police took them into custody. In his second attempt he worked with Amsterdam’s municipality to push for his White Bike plan to spread thousands of white bikes to share throughout Amsterdam. The council rejected his plan, claiming that ‘bikes are an outmoded form of transport’.


Just as CD’s have been replaced by digital and streaming technologies, and video stores are being bankrupted by online on demand streaming services, the shift toward ecologically sound forms of transportation have reinvigorated consumers to step on the peddle, with bike sharing making more sense now than 50 years ago. Business too is taking an interest, CitiBank sponsored one of the New York bike share programmes, Citi Bike. With social movements like BitLock developing, through crowdfunding, a bikelock that can be opened with a smartphone – bikes can be shared with a third party, where access is granted through a transfer of a security key between smartphone apps.

In the German university city Aachen, eBikes are for example being offered. The plan of developer Velocity is to offer an electronic bike every 300 meters. The company is currently testing out its idea, with 20 bike-stations to be set up in 2015. Not only will the bikes be shared, but will the cost, with the cost being added to the public transport system as a whole, in exchange for the unlimited free use of the bikes.

Bike Sharing - The Secret of Succes

Back to the future
Roland Berger, in their research report, look at how shared bikes can be further expanded going forward. They unravel that the supply of shared bikes plays a large role in influencing the demand. Based on the several trends and advantages they identify, the consultants see a bright future for the market. Increased supply will fuel interest, which in turn will drive investment, boosting innovation and further down the cycle increase uptake and demand. If the forecast from the consultants turns reality, then the market will by 2020 grow to between €3,6 and €5,3 billion. 

Related news: Sharing economy to grow to $335 billion by 2025.