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Bike-Sharing Systems to Grow to Multi-Billion Business

Sales & Trends

MUNICH, Germany – It stood out at last June’s Velo-city Conference & Exhibition; how many bike-sharing system operators there currently are. Since JCDecaux and the Paris city council started with Vélib in July 2007 the public bikes concept is now used by more than 600 cities around the globe. And is forecasted to grow into a multi-billion euro business.

Bike-Sharing Systems to Grow to Multi-Billion Business
China has the biggest bike-sharing systems operating up to 90,000 bikes in one city. – Photo Bike Europe

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants delved deep in the bike-sharing business and its future potential. This consultancy is specialized in what it calls innovative mobility. Roland Berger’s analysis says that in December 2013 there were about 640 cities around the world with bike-sharing systems offering more than 640,000 bikes.

  • Asia: 460,000 bikes are operated in 10 countries by 108 cities/systems.
  • Europe: 150,000 public bikes in 31 countries operated by 472 cities/systems
  • North and South America: 24,000 bikes in North America in 34 cities/systems in 3 countries

Currently China has the biggest bike-sharing systems with the cities of Wuhan and Hangzhou operating 90,000 and 70,000 bikes respectively. In the Top Ten of major cities offering public bikes; the only European bike-sharing systems are operated in Paris (24,000 bikes) and London (8.000). The other 8 are all Chinese cities.

It shows that the growth of the number of cities that offer bike-sharing systems (639) and the total number of bikes that are operated in these systems (643,000) come for the biggest part on the account of China.

Why is Vélib so successful?

At the mentioned Velo-city Conference & Exhibition the biggest outdoor advertising company in the world (which is JCDecaux’s core business) proudly advertised that it is currently counting 55 million bike rentals per year and its Vélib system is now operated in 29 cities. On the question why Vélib in Paris is so successful the study names:

  • the high bike-station density
  • the program ‘buzz’ after introduction
  • the subway in Paris stops at 1 am
  • the easy intermodality
  • robust yet modern bike design
  • the high acceptance rate resulting in a 70% increase in bicycle use
  • the strong support from the Paris city council

Another success factor is the fact that, “Being low priced and covering short to mid distances, bike sharing closes an important gap between the other transport modes,” says the study.


Where will all this take bike-sharing in the next five years? According to the study the number of bikes used will rise from the current 643,000 to 2.3 million! Roland Berger Strategy Consultants names as several reasons for this huge growth. By 2020, the global market for bike-sharing is expected to be worth between € 3.6 and € 5.3 billion.”

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants also provides recommendations for stakeholders. For bike and component makers the study advises, “(Co-)Develop bikes for bike-sharing schemes Develop e-bikes for bike-sharing schemes to push e-bikes into the market and make the public used to it Involve with bike-sharing to increase modal share of bikes overall.”

Download available

The study ‘Bike Sharing 4.0’ from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants is available at:


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