Step 2: Research

It is useful to undertake some research into the size of scheme you want to have, so you can get an idea of the costs required to run it. We often recommend starting with a small sized fleet (e.g., around 4 bikes) to learn how to manage that and understand the costs involved, and then expand and adapt over time. This of course depends on your objectives and current set up – which sections 2 and 3 of our community bike share guidance can help you think through.

Below are ways to establish rough costs based on the local need and the size of the fleet:

Part 1: Establishing scale

When working out scale (number of bikes), market research or feasibility studies can help. Market research or feasibility studies can help establish this. The process could involve: 

  • Asking local community members what they want from a bike scheme.
  • Identifying what journeys the bikes would be used for.
  • Establishing what type of bikes could be appropriate (e.g. hilly areas may require e-bikes which are more costly, or nursery runs and drop offs may require cargo bikes).
  • Establishing partnerships and exploring whether you could get ridership from beyond your local community residents (e.g., caravan parks or corporate users etc). It is useful here to define the community your scheme will cater for. Stow Community Trust provide bikes for a particular postcode but setting your own parameters (if any) can help when assessing ridership potential. 

Alternatively, you may begin with a small fleet and then assess true demand once up and running.

Part 2: An optional exercise for working out approximate running costs

  • Once you have worked out scale, you can use the content from Step 3 to estimate related running and purchasing costs.
  • If you want to generate income from hiring you can play around with figures and work out what you can cover from projected hire costs to cover your running costs. (See step 4 ‘what to charge and membership options’).
  • Account for seasonality when doing this exercise (see step 7 'financial risk/scenario planning section').
  • If your projected hire costs don’t cover running costs, then you can begin to think about accounting for the deficit.
  • Explore any funds that can cover set up costs (e.g., Energy Saving Trust e-bike fund or Cycling Scotland’s Communities Fund).
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