Help! New Guidance Available on Shared Bikes and Scooters

Daniel Herrig


Shared active transportation, including bikes, scooters and e-bikes, present a great opportunity for cities to provide effective transportation choices to their citizens.

The 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), estimates 45.6 percent of trips are under 3 miles. While only 5 percent are under half a mile, ideal for walking, the other trips under 3 miles are most efficiently traveled by other active transportation modes, e.g. bikes and scooters. In recent years, this has played out in the form of shared active transportation operators, such as Lime, Ofo, Bird and others. The convenience and efficiency of these shared active transportation services is supported further in the acquisition of some operators by large ride-hailing operators, Uber and Lyft, who seek to diversify their services and supplement their vehicular rides for optimum travel for their customers. 

In this rise of modal options within the city, the rise of shared active transportation operators presents a challenge to many cities. The newness of this business model and the unknowns of its impacts presents regulatory and management challenges. Recent guidelines from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) have compiled best practices for implementing shared active transportation within your community.

Balancing the pros and cons of bike share systems – docked vs dockless, on-street vs on sidewalk, and parking options – NACTO’s Shared Active Transportation Guidelines (July 2018) provide standards including:

  • Permitting frameworks
  • City/company communication mechanisms
  • Standards for communicating with the public
  • Data requirements
  • Minimum equipment safety standards
  • Customer privacy standards

Links to policy examples from other cities are also included.

Taking an international perspective, ITDP’s The Bikeshare Planning Guide (2018) starts from the beginning. From building political will to goal-setting and metrics, this guide builds the foundation for a shared active transportation system.

Shared active transportation can be a great asset for cities, but only through proper regulation and management can it succeed in expanding transportation options, access and equity.

For questions about this topic, contact Daniel Herrig at