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Improving Edinburgh's Bike Hire Scheme for Students

How can Edinburgh improve its bike hire scheme to provide more accessible low-carbon transport for students? This policy paper outlines four new pricing options to increase the accessibility of the Edinburgh's "Just Eat Cycle" hire scheme to student cyclists.



University of Edinburgh


Celia Wicher

Esther González Hernando

Karlotta Schultz

Rory Chapman

Kang Li

Executive Summary

It is well understood that to mitigate the environmental damage of climate change, new policies have to be adopted. Accordingly, governments all over the world are implementing green projects to reduce pollution and improve wellbeing. The transport sector plays a key role in meeting these objectives. As an integral part of any city and the life of its residents, the transport system has the potential to not only promote sustainability and an active lifestyle, but also to increase accessibility and to transform the public sphere.

In autumn 2018, the Just Eat Cycle hire scheme was launched in cooperation with the University of Edinburgh and the City Council. As a team, we decided to explore the possibilities to increase the accessibility and usage of the bike hire scheme for students of the University of Edinburgh. The results of our research found that the criteria with most significance for deciding a specific price were, “affordability”, “comprehensibility”, “price competitiveness” and “flexibility”. These criteria were instrumental in the effectiveness of bike-hire schemes in universities across the world.

Initially, our results informed a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) in order to enable the local stakeholders to evaluate a number of potential changes in the current pricing system of the bike hire scheme in a nuanced and adaptable ways. The results of the analysis enable the local stakeholdersto identify how best to increase uptake.

From our findings, we have two policy recommendations. The findings illustrate the most potent determinants for bike-hire uptake were free membership and monthly membership. Both options scored highest withregards to the criteria. Hence, if uptake was the stakeholders main goal, these price options would garner the best results. Therefore, we would recommend stakeholders to consider these two options when re-evaluating the price strategy of the scheme.

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