Bicycle share programmes are a fast growing trend in urban transportation. The premise of giving a community struggling to afford public transport access to a seemingly low cost bicycle alternative is attractive. The City of Johannesburg (COJ) has commissioned a technical and financial assessment of the viability of piloting a Bike Sharing Scheme (BSS) in one of five potential areas, with the desired outcome being a sustainable business model and contract specification. The study analysed potential passenger demand, topography, cycling infrastructure, technology options, operational models, and quantified expected costs and revenue. While considered technically feasible, none of the scenarios evaluated was estimated to cover its operational costs, and would therefore require subsidies. Internationally, most cities subsidise its BSS, arguing that it is an extension to their public transport system, which is not expected to be subsidy-free. This paper argues that Johannesburg could potentially make a bigger difference by investing in alternative programmes to increase access to cycling in the communities which were assessed in this study.
Paper presented at the 34th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 6-9 July 2015 "Working Together to Deliver - Sakha Sonke", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.