Bike sharing services from a customer point of view


In this shared mobility research we have placed the traveller in the heart of our process, because it is people who hold the information that allows us to make better products. More specifically we have placed ourselves in the heart of our process; though we are creators, in the first place we are people who lead lives that touch many aspects of the mobility ecosystem, as creators are users too! 

With our subject matter expertise and our years of industry knowledge, we have been able to create a shared mobility approach that we apply when working for projects and clients in the field of travel and mobility, to find the best ways to meet both user and business needs. For this shared mobility research we relied on our proven approach, which we tailored to our specific needs.

This means we focused mostly on trying the different bike sharing brands and documenting our experiences to see if we could identify specific leverage points.

First and foremost we applied the methods we centre in all our projects: to discover and strategise, use human centred design and continuous user involvement.

Our research contained four main research phases:

Desk research

Our desk research was twofold. Firstly we expanded our knowledge and experience about shared mobility with the latest developments in the market anywhere from newcomers in the markets to latest investments or out-vestments, to media coverage and what the legislators have to say.
Secondly we mapped out all the shared bicycle brands in the Netherlands and Belgium to get an overview of the active players in the market that we were able to test (for us they were GOsharing, OVfiets, Donkey Republic, Lime, Cargoroo, BaQme, Velo, Bondi, TIER, HTM Den Haag, BlueBike).

Field research

The main way to understand a service or product is to actually use it. Every fellow chose a bike sharing service to test, and the only rule was that the ride had to be part of our normal routine. So whether it was a ride between the station and a client meeting, an in-between-stops ride, or having to pick up something somewhere, we would choose the best fitting service for our needs and start our test.

We conducted a total of 27 tests of 11 services (GOsharing, OVfiets, Donkey Republic, Lime, Cargoroo, BaQme, Velo, Bondi, TIER, HTM Den Haag*, BlueBike). For 5 weeks the fresk fellows were on the move paddling through 8 different cities (Alphen a/d Rijn, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Den Haag, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Weesp) around 2 countries (the Netherlands and Belgium).

Questions were related to the goal of the ride, costs and prices, the onboarding process etc. And for key parts of the experience we asked the fresk fellows to take pictures.

This led us to raw data that we used during 1-on-1 sessions to debrief the experience and go through all the pains and gains of it. It enabled us to collect qualitative insights about the experience before, during and after the ride, and quantitative data related to availability, costs and offer of the products tested.

Participants conducting 27 tests of 11 products

*  While we were wrapping up our report, HTM announced to its customers that they will stop offering bicycle sharing. They are at a point that they need to invest in their fleet, but the rides are behind their expectation, which means their bike sharing service is not profitable and they will pull the plug in most of their cities, except Zoetermeer. Zoetermeer offers a subsidised pilot for employees and students of the Dutch Innovation Factory to use the bicycles for free, they will continue with that pilot.

Market research

The field research gave us more insights and different scenarios of use, and in order to validate these we conducted a validation round with guerrilla interviews in different train stations in the Netherlands and simultaneously invited respondents to answer questions through a questionnaire. Through this engagement we were able to validate different scenarios of using bike sharing services and we were able to create a list of the pros and cons of the bike sharing services we researched.
We were able to ask 55 people about their experience with shared bicycles and validate the results of our field research.

The questionnaire for our market research

Leverage point session

In order to make sense of the data, we used the insights from our field research as a starting point to define possible leverage points based on the different steps of the traveller life cycle with shared mobility services.

We mapped the main drivers for travellers when choosing a bike sharing service, which we got from our desk and market research, namely cost of the service, comfort of the bike, time, findability of the bike, reliability of the service, and availability of the service on our mobility framework, in order to highlight the needs and priorities for each different scenario.

The main drivers plotted in our shared mobility framework

The mapping provided us the opportunity to make a clear distinction between what the prioritised main drivers are depending on the type of ride and the scenario people might find themselves in. This helped us define leverage points to improve the bike sharing experience.

Data collection

All data we collected was structured in our main tool: ClickUp. Which gave us a great overview.

An overview of the collected data in Clickup