Bike sharing schemes for both public and corporate use are growing in Latin America but which is better, those set up with a network of bike stations or those that are free floating and dockless. Regardless of your preference, here is a brief overview of what's available in the region and some of the pros and cons to look out for.
The largest station supported bike sharing scheme in Latin America is Tembici from Brazil
which was developed in partnership with local bank Itaú-Unibanco. Although starting in Brazil (present in 18 cities as of January 2019), the scheme is set to be introduced in Santiago and Buenos Aires soon with the help
of artificial intelligence (AI) platform provider, Stage Intelligence.
Tembici bike-sharing in São Paulo, Brazil (source: Globo)
, the London-based AI provider has also been working with Central American bike sharing operator BKT bicipública (BKT) since the second semester of 2017. Through the support of its BICO platform, it is working hand-in-hand with BKT and its MIBICI bike sharing system in Jalisco state capital Guadalajara.
Most recently, Stage Intelligence has also closed a deal with CityBike Perú, a subsidiary of Spanish transportation and mobility company Moventia. The two are launching a 50-station bike scheme in Lima which will start with a fleet of some 500 bicycles.
Among the other dock-based schemes in Latin America are Bikesantiago and Bici Las Condes in Santiago, Ecobici in Buenos Aires and Mexico City, Encicla in Medellin, Movete in Montevideo, and Bici Q in Quito.
Dockless bike sharing is a little harder to come by but it is a quickly growing scheme being used in more and more cities throughout Latin America. Among the main providers in the region is Yellow, a Brazilian bike and scooter sharing service. In late January, it teamed up with Mexican electric scooter sharing startup Grin to form last-mile mobility group, Grow Mobility
The group, which operates a total of 135,000 vehicles in six Latin American countries, has drummed up some US$259mn in secured funding between October (2018) and January (2019). It, however, will have to go head-to-head with multinational companies such as Mobike and Ofo, both of which are from China.
Mobike bike-sharing in Santiago (source: Shutterstock)
Pros and Cons
Station-based bicycles suffer less vandalism and theft as they do not face the risk that a free-floating bike may have from being left in potentially dangerous neighborhoods untethered to a station. As they always have a station to go to, it is also less complicated logistically speaking, but you need to have a well organized management system such as the BICO platform to make sure your bikes are docked in appropriate areas.
Keep in mind that while a dock-based system is quite convenient for finding a bicycle, it may be a bit of a hassle when it comes to parking at the arrival point as a nearby station may not be available.
The opposit occurs with a dockless bike. While riders can arrive at their destination and just set their bike aside nearby, finding a free-floating bike may be challenging if your looking for one in a remote area. If you live in a highly commercial district, though, and in better neighborhoods, this will likely not be a problem.
The aforementioned risk of vandalism and theft can be curbed by a few defensive measures. For Yellow bike, besides each bike having a sophisticated tracking device, the company uses unconventional bike parts and specially designed bolts to thwart off would-be thieves.
Global Fleet editor Daniel Bland tests Yellow bike-sharing in São Paulo (source: Fleet LatAm)