Is New York City's bike sharing program hurting local bike shops?

New York City Citi bikes bike sharing riders photo
CC BY 2.0 NYCDOT

When there are big changes, not everybody always wins. New York City's bike sharing program has been a success by many standards. Over 105,000 people have signed up for the annual membership ($95), or about 1 in 5 bike riders in the city. More people bike than ever, and bike infrastructure has been improving with bike lanes reaching areas that they didn't previously.

But the owner of two bike shops in Manhattan says bike sharing has been hurting his sales. One of the shops is right next to a Citibike station, while the other is over a mile from the closest one. The first shop has seen a decline in sales while the other has growing revenues. Is bike sharing to blame? And if so, is this a short-term effect or a long-term trend?

Citibike/Screen capture

It's possible to imagine that even with shared bikes, the overall number of cyclists will keep going up as the city becomes more bike-friendly. There will always be some people who want their own bike for various reasons (performance, comfort, style, they don't ride close to bike sharing stations, etc), and overall numbers should go up over time, helping bike shops.

But maybe that's a flawed theory and bike shops won't be able to compete with bike-sharing. What then? Maybe the solution is to sadly not try to compete directly, and have bike shops in places where there isn't widely available bike sharing. Overall, bike sharing is doing a lot of good, and making cycling more convenient for the masses. There might not be a way to make it be good for 100% of people including bike shop owners.

What do you think?

One important caveat is that this is only the experience of one bike shop owner, with two shops. Maybe others are seeing different things...

Via Bloomberg

Tags: Bikes | Bike Sharing

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