The Path Ahead for Bikesharing

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Bikeshare started appearing around 2005, as city governments contracted bikeshare equipment and operations with public funds (or advertising assets), making docked bikeshare a visible part of the urban streetscape. In 2016, growth was accelerated with introducing electric-assist, dockless bikes, and scooters financed by venture capital and governed by new kinds of permit programs. Massive investment and fierce competition between operators fueled exponential increases in ridership and incentivized operators and cities to create micromobility programs that relied on speculative funding mechanisms. As venture capital dried up, so did many cities’ unsubsidized permit programs. Operators could no longer bear cities’ terms that they once readily accepted for growth and market share, and the dominant economics of shared micromobility have now come under scrutiny.

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