Cyclists like to be taken care of

Bike rental companies as a healthy business model

People who are customers of a bicycle rental company are more likely to go by bike instead of public transport, car or on foot. This is according to recent research by scientists at Maastricht University. Even if the maintenance of their rental bike is free, customers often treat their bikes with care and also take care of (minor) repairs themselves.

Good for the environment
Recent research shows that if everyone in the world were to cycle as much every day as they do in the Netherlands, that would result in 700 million tonnes less CO₂ emissions. That amounts to 20 per cent of the current emissions of all passenger cars worldwide. "Our research shows that people choose bicycles more consciously if they rent one," said researcher Laura Niessen. "They choose the bike more often than any other means of transport and they cover longer distances on the rental bike than before the subscription. By emitting less CO₂, rental cyclists thus contribute to a better environment and living climate in the city."

Sustainable bicycles
Participants in the survey were also found to be more economical with their bikes. "We saw that even if maintenance is free, customers still spend time and money on repairing their rental bikes themselves. A well-maintained bike lasts longer and so if rental companies invest in circular product lines and climate-neutral operations, this is an extra boost for sustainability. To achieve a 100% circular product line, it is important to innovate in the areas of reuse, repair and recyclable materials," said Laura Niessen.

Infrastructure in place
The study shows that more factors contribute to promoting cycling behaviour. Climate plays a role. But urban infrastructure is also an important element. The cycling culture as we know it in the Netherlands cannot simply be copied in other countries. So for bicycle rental companies, it is important to know what the culture and infrastructure is like in a region in order to develop an optimal circular business model.

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