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Analysing the bike-sharing economy

Commercialisation and public bike sharing remain prominent trends in the bicycle parking racks market. The rapid pace of urbanisation hasn’t been without its own share of challenges. Increasing air pollution and chaotic road traffic, especially in urban centres, continues to be a challenge for Governments all around the world. Addressing these challenges entails a multi-pronged approach, with decreasing the reliance on automobiles being an integral part. The use of bicycles as a means of commute, especially for covering short distances, isn’t entirely a new idea. However, in recent years, it has gained prominence on account of health and wellness, and carbon consciousness.

While car sharing became popular in an effort to resolve problems of urban traffic, bike sharing has gained significant traction as an effective and sustainable transport solution for distances that are too long to walk and too short to drive. The bike-sharing economy has necessitated the demand for efficient bicycle parking management. As unorganised bicycle parking aggravates existing traffic congestion on roads, bicycle parking racks have become a common sight in urban areas wherein their presence is no more restricted to public gardens or near subway stations.

An opportunity of branding through bicycle parking racks has added a commercial aspect wherein custom bike racks with the brand name or logo are being used to enhance brand visibility. Identifying the possibilities of commercialisation, small businesses are voluntarily offering their storefronts for bicycle parking rack construction, in a bid to capture greater visibility.

Small businesses investing in bicycle parking racks to increase customer footfall
According to a study carried out by the Portland State University, about 67 per cent of business owners agreed that presence of bicycle parking racks significantly enhances foot and bike traffic in their store locations. The study also found that businesses that are easy to reach by bicycle tend to get more consumer visits. Commercialisation has further propelled the design evolution of bicycle parking racks. While traditional parking racks were limited to bike positioning, manufacturers are providing custom or theme-based bicycle parking racks that help businesses in enhancing their brand visibility.

In addition to public bike sharing, bicycle parking racks are witnessing penetration in official infrastructures where sustainable transportation is encouraged. Presence of a variety of appealing shapes, mount types, decorative designs, bike locks and bike lockers are well-accepted among modern bike riders. While traditional bicycle parking rack remains the most sought-after design, digital parking racks are witnessing increasing adoption. Digital parking racks with RFID access card, alarm and connectivity are being installed in private or commercial infrastructures.

In most countries, the demand for bicycle parking racks is met by local dealers or manufacturers. Since the inception of the first modern bicycle rack known as ‘Sheffield rack’ in England, Europe continues to witness growing investments in bicycle parking racks.

China: A lucrative market for bicycle parking rack manufacturers
China’s extensive bike-sharing landscape has witnessed a prominent shift towards dockless bikes. However, to resolve the bicycle overflow in graveyards, China is expected to witness steady demand for bicycle parking racks. Increasing popularity of dockless bike and scooters can reduce the necessity of bicycle parking racks. However, as an economical and sustainable mode of transportation, the perennial popularity of bicycles will continue to underpin the necessity of bicycle parking racks in the near future.

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