Bike sharing and bike rental are two concepts that are often mistaken for one another. Bike rental is a system where you can borrow a bicycle at one location and return it to the same place. This system is usually used by day hikers, tourists, and cycling schools for those who don't have their own bike. Bike sharing, on the other hand, is a system where bicycles are available for members of the public to use for short periods of time after registering and paying.
This system is typically used for quick trips that replace driving and the hassle of finding parking. The inclusion of e-bikes in a bike-sharing plan or rental service can help in areas with hilly topography, which can be an obstacle to cycling. Traditional bikes are more likely to be effective in relatively flat areas. Dockless bike sharing plans, facilitated by electronic tracking and payment, are becoming increasingly popular. Bike sharing plans are usually cheaper than bike rentals, which tend to cost more since they are rented for longer periods.
The long-term rental system generally involves lower repair costs for the program administrator, since passengers are encouraged to perform minimal maintenance to keep the bicycle in good condition. There is also evidence that bicycle-sharing programs should be adopted in conjunction with the city's infrastructure, such as creating bicycle lanes. In addition to comfort bikes, Blazing Saddles offers tandem bikes, equipment for children, and a wide variety of high-end electric, road, and mountain bikes. Free-floating bicycles cannot use the facilities of the public bike-sharing program or leave them in parks; nor can there be more than four free floating bicycles parked at the same time in one place. A public bicycle-sharing plan alone is unlikely to have a major impact on the city. Bike rental and floating bike sharing plans (also known as “dockless bike sharing”) can be free for local authorities (when managed by private companies).
At the other end of the spectrum, the cost of a bicycle-sharing plan could be significant, although there are models that have a potentially low direct cost for municipal authorities.