The Bikeshare Planning Guide

3. Goal Setting &
Initial Planning

Cities should begin the process of planning a bikeshare system with the following three tasks:

Identify goals and metrics to achieve them | Section 3.1

Bikeshare is not inherently valuable to a city, rather it is a tool for making a city better. To get the most benefit from bikeshare, cities should identify specific goals—such as increasing access by cycling and public transport or reducing greenhouse gas emissions—that bikeshare can help achieve and identify performance metrics to monitor progress toward those goals.

Choose a system type and define planning and policy parameters | Section 3.2

Informed by the city’s goals, as well as contextual characteristics of the city (i.e., hilly, existing cycling culture, etc.), the next step is to identify which type of system to pursue (docked, dockless, or a hybrid approach), the locations and sizes of stations and/or service area boundaries. Key planning parameters related to system size and projected ridership should be defined, as well as policies to guide bikeshare operations.

Develop business and financial plans | Section 3.3

This step defines the organizational and revenue models, including contracting or permitting, and enforcement. The time frame for each step will differ from city to city, depending heavily on political will, staff time, and resources committed to the project. The time frame for publicly funded systems (typically station-based) will likely be longer than private dockless systems—often more than a year—because of tendering and contracting operations, which are dictated by the city’s procurement rules if any are in place. Regardless, the time frame for planning and implementing a bikeshare system is far shorter than that of most transportation projects, and can be realized within a couple of years or within a mayoral term.

Interested in learning more about optimizing dockless bikeshare for cities? Check out ITDP's dockless bikeshare policy brief.

View Policy Brief