Subsidized Cyclesharing and Smartphones: On Buzzbike

Buzzbike is a high-concept implementation of ad-subsidised cyclesharing, but with a contemporary technologically-facilitated twist.

The project is noteworthy because it doesn’t depend on the establishment of city-wide collective bike stations. Rather, riders apply for the program and receive a free individual bike for their own unlimited use.

From the perspective of an advertiser, an investment in a cyclesharing program only begins to pay adequate returns if the bike is ridden regularly, and visibly.

Traditionally, this ‘minimum-ridership’ was assured through collective cyclesharing programs like citibike, where the public visibility of the stations, and constant communal use of bikes, guaranteed minimum-ridership. There are significant support costs baked into the collective cyclesharing model, including theft-proofing bikes, balancing networks, achieving minimum-scale, and general network-maintenance, but if 25 riders / day ride each bike, the overall exposure balances things out.

Buzzbike Ad Subsidized Cyclesharing London

Buzzbike’s model approaches the challenge from the opposite direction. Notably, it’s only on the basis of the universal adoption of smartphones that their approach is possible.

Buzzbike Ad Subsidized Cyclesharing London

The New Model

Buzzbike leverages the data-collection of smartphones to track and monitor high-frequency riders.  

Obviously there have always been prolific (high visibility) cyclists in cities, but there haven’t been any convenient ways to track and quantify the extent of their activity. Quantifiable high-frequency ridership is the condition of possibility of ad-subsidized cyclesharing networks. Thanks to smartphones, we can get this in a wholly different way than through communal cyclesharing systems.

According to the Buzzbike product page ( all Buzzbike riders must agree to three conditions:

  • Connect the rider app to your bike so we can track your progress
  • Ride to work a minimum of 12 days a month
  • Park your bike securely on the street

The maintenance costs of a traditional cycle-sharing program are transferred from the system to the individual, and visibility is guaranteed not by bulk statistical ridership, but through individual quantification.

Buzzbike’s implementation removes all the baked-in costs of conventional cycle-sharing networks (network balancing, maintenance, minimum network-effect scale), giving it leaner early-stage scalability. Where conventional cycle-sharing systems require significant upfront investment before the cascade of network-effects start revealing themselves, Buzzbike works equally well with one or 100 riders.



The critical question is whether it’s a sensible model for 1000 or 100,000 riders.


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