driven pedaled by cycling enthusiasts and eco-friendly travelers. The docking and payment stations for a bikeshare system are installed and operated by companies like Alta and Bixi; but cities are responsible for writing up contracts and implementing their individual bikeshare plans. Every plan is unique to the needs of a specific city. The basic idea behind bikeshare is the same everywhere; but details like station numbers, pricing options and docking locations often differ. One of these seemingly minor details that is surprisingly significant in every city is advertising.
Miami’s DecoBike is struggling to meet its anticipated advertising revenue. Unfortunately, officials can’t increase the number of advertisement without jumping through some hoops. There are restrictions on the number and size of advertisements. Currently, the bikes are only allowed to have ads on the basket in front of the bike. Advertisements are not allowed on station docks. Miami has prided itself on being a relatively ad-free city, so the proposal for seven-by-two-foot advertisments is larger than its dimensions alone.
Other bikeshare systems have implemented advertising through corporate sponsorships. Boston’s bikeshare is officially named the New Blanace Hubway, a partnership with the shoe company. NiceRideMN is sponsored by the health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield. Both have rear-wheel covers advertising their respective partners. These partnerships are a sort of win-win for advertisers and cities. New Balance provides financial support to the Hubway and receives advertising and positive image branding in the process. Likewise, Minneapolis receives money from Blue Cross Blue Shield while they get cross promotion for their “Do.” campaign. However, it doesn’t always work out so well; SEVici bikeshare in Seville, Spain is under fire for advertising beer.
As Miami struggles with the role of advertising for DecoBikes and Boston and Minneapolis prosper with theirs, some cities have yet to explore the potential of ads. Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C. is undeniably popular. It logged the one-millionth ride on its 1st birthday. There is great potential for ad revenue and D.C. is starting to think seriously about it. The money from bikeshare ads could help fill holes in the budget and ideally fund expansion for Capital Bikeshare.
Advertising is a simple way to complement funding for bikeshare. It can also serve as an additional revenue stream for a city. Either way, the presence and importance of advertising for bikeshare is undeniable.