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Procuring bike share schemes without reinventing the wheel

17 September 2019
Woman on bicycle in traffic
DWF's public sector team has advised public bodies and providers on the procurement of a range of differing bike share schemes across the UK. Drawing on these experiences, we have set out the factors and decisions, which all public bodies should consider before embarking on a procurement process. 

With the increasing importance of both the health agenda and reducing congestion in city and town centres, many public bodies are looking to procure bike share schemes for their regions. We set out our top ten tips, identifying factors that have arisen on schemes across the UK and should assist any public body in its initial planning phase:

  1. Scope of the scheme: To future-proof your procurement and contract consider the following questions:
    1. Which geographical areas are you looking to cover - one main hub or potential for phasing across a range of regions?
    2. Do you want to open the procurement to other public bodies in your region?
    3. What term length are you considering as this will impact on which bidders are interested and the solutions they might propose?
    4. Do you wish to incorporate extensions into the scheme, both in terms of potential duration of the contract or provision to include a wider range of equipment (as the market is developing constantly (e-bikes, scooters etc)?

  2. Locations: Once the geographical areas themselves have been identified, potential locations for the docking spaces/zones should also be explored (either by the public body's in house team or through engagement of external bike specialists). A public body also has the option of making this a responsibility of the operator procured through the process.

  3. Market consultation days: These are relatively quick and simple to organise and provide a valuable source of information, which can help shape your procurement process by giving an insight into the appetite of the market to deliver a scheme in your region.

  4. Budget for the scheme: This will be crucial in shaping the scope of your scheme in relation to the type of bikes (mechanical or e-bikes) and the number of bikes to be provided, tariffs and potential speed of mobilisation. Operators vary from provision of bikes/infrastructure to a fully-operative scheme but the type of delivery will inform the procurement process. 

  5. Delivery arrangement: Public bodies have the option of procuring a concession arrangement with operators investing in a scheme using their own resources and retaining income generated from the scheme; or a more traditional services arrangement with the public body contributing to the scheme. This is important in shaping both the process and the contract itself.

  6. Docking: Consider whether your region is more likely to require a fully-docked solution or whether use of existing street infrastructure or geo-docking (bikes being left in designated zones) is appropriate. This may be driven in part by budget. A fully-docked solution requires more investment and time for mobilisation but may have benefits such as reduced vandalism and better street appearance.

  7. Transport integration: Consider how and to what extent connectivity of the bike share scheme to other modes of transport in your region is a priority and how this integration could be facilitated, as IT could be a limiting factor.

  8. Sponsorship: Think about whether this is to be incorporated into the procurement making it the operator's responsibility or whether it will remain with the public body. Remember that many operators are experts in bikes and not necessarily securing sponsorship!

  9. Stakeholders: It's important to identify the right stakeholders for the scheme from the outset.. Universities, have been important early adopters of schemes. If the geographic scope covers various council areas, a working group will need to establish the priorities for mobilisation and budget etc.

  10. Timetable: Suppliers tend to take a number of months from conclusion of procurement processes (i.e. from contract award) to launch a scheme so any local drivers or milestones for delivery of the scheme (e.g. external sporting events) should be clearly identified at the outset.


If you are a public body currently considering how a bike share scheme might be procured in your region, please contact a member of our national public sector team to discuss how we might assist you with your procurement.

Further Reading