Global Street Design Guide

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Global Street Design Guide

Around the world, cycle share programs are offering new transportation choices for people of all incomes. They extend the reach of existing transit systems, make one-way cycle trips possible, and eliminate some of the barriers to riding such as cycle ownership, access to storage space, maintenance costs, and concerns about theft.

Cycle share offers an opportunity to promote cycling in a city when it involves good system planning and is incorporated as part of a larger citywide strategy.

It is not a viable strategy unless combined with adequate facilities, comprehensive cycling networks, protected cycle lanes, and appropriate station density.

Cycle share trips are often very short. The average cycle share trip is about 12 minutes long, and user convenience is a fundamental consideration in the success of any cycle share program.1

Program Coverage Area

For cycle share systems to offer a meaningful transportation option, they should cover large, contiguous areas that include a variety of neighborhoods, employment centers, cultural or recreational destinations, and high-density areas. Initial coverage areas should be carefully selected and strategically expanded in phases while maintaining critical station density and spacing across the entire system.

Program Density and Station Spacing

Cycle share usage is largely driven by convenience. So, having many options will increase overall ridership. While many people will comfortably walk 400 m to reach a mass transit stop, it appears that the distance someone is willing to walk in order to use a bicycle is smaller, about 300 m, or a 5-minute walk.

Since this distance remains the same regardless of neighborhood type, the size of the stations should be adjusted, not the spacing. When a station is full or empty, a user should be able to easily go to the nearest station to drop off or pick up a bicycle. Cities should ensure that stations are spaced no more than 300 m apart across the entire program area. This translates to an overall density of 11 stations per square kilometer.

Station distance is fundamental to the success of a cycle share system. Stations should be located no more than 300 m apart.


E-bike share systems provide pedelec bicycles whose pedalling is assisted by a small electric motor. These types of bicycles are particularly helpful for elderly people and can encourage people to cycle in hilly cities. Pedelecs reduce effort, decrease the time to reach a destination, and increase the range of destinations. In some cases, digital wayfinding screens are included on the bicycle.

Copenhagen, Denmark. This share system provides pedal-assist e-bikes with built-in wayfinding screens.

Station Placement

Consider key destinations such as transit stations, schools, office districts, commercial corridors, and tourist attractions in the placement of cycle share stations.

On-street cycle share stations can be placed on parking spaces. On-street stations also assist in traffic calming and street safety efforts by helping define pedestrian and cycle spaces and increasing visibility at intersections.

Stations should ideally be placed near cycle lanes and should never impede clear and safe pedestrian flow. Opportunities can be found:

  • In parking spaces adjacent to sidewalks
  • In parking spaces adjacent to cycle lanes
  • On wide sidewalks
  • In adjacent public spaces, parks, or destination sites outside the public right-of-way

Station Dimensions and Types

Cycle share stations generally include no fewer than 15 docks and can accommodate more than 100 at very high demand locations. Some cites use hardwired stations, which require digging and trenching. Although they have a better appearance, they require more construction time. Alternative systems are installed on plates and are generally less expensive and faster to install.

Cycle Share Station Configurations

Configuration 1: Parking spaces adjacent to sidewalks.

Configuration 2: Parking spaces adjacent to cycle lanes.

Configuration 3: On wide sidewalks.

Configuration 4: In adjacent public spaces, parks, or destination sites outside the public right-of-way.


The city of Hangzhou started a cycle share program in 2008 and has now the largest system in the world, with 66,500 cycles operating from 2,700 stations. Stations are located around bus stops and water taxi stations. The first 90 minutes of usage are free if transferring from a public bus or metro. The system is seen by locals as the best way to complement mass transit.

The high number of cycles and stations, along with the very wide protected cycle track network, are vital to the success of the system.

Hangzhou Cycle Share System


1. Steve Vance, “Divvy Releases Trove of Bike-Share Trip Data”. Streetsblog (blog) February 20, 2014, accessed June 6, 2016

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

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