Bachelor’s thesis on bike-sharing in medium-sized towns

Recommended actions for implementing a bike rental system for occupational commuters in Holzminden and Höxter

Sebastian Kühle, a graduate of TH OWL’s bachelor’s programme in urban planning, has written his bachelor’s thesis on bike-sharing in medium-sized towns. This article outlines the thesis. There will also be an option to download the thesis at the end of this article.

Bike-sharing as a public and automated form of renting out bikes has contributed immensely to the worldwide bicycle boom. This is particularly relevant to large cities and metropolises, in which bike-sharing system ensure connectivity and multimodal transportation systems. Medium-sized towns and rural areas do not experience the aforementioned boom to the same extent. However, there are case studies of smaller scales (Gütersloh), projects that belong to larger metropolitan systems (Worms), and touristic projects (Usedom). In regards to these examples, it would be desirable to have bike-sharing systems that specifically foster multimodal environmental sustainability.

This thesis examined whether the system properties of bike-sharing systems are reconcilable with the specific mobility requirements of medium-sized towns. The research questions were as follows: Which general requirements need to be considered when implementing such a system? Why does the major target group use the system? What further advantages are there, specifically for medium-sized towns? How does the system need to be designed in order for the city and its inhabitants to benefit from it?

The examination areas were the two medium-sized towns Holzminden and Höxter, which are both situated in the two different German federal states Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westfalia. They are both, however, only 9 kilometers apart from each other. Due to their spatial proximity, they both form a collective economic area, along with their adjacent municipalities. This economic area is heavily influenced by commuter networks. For this reason, the target group that has been selected are occupational commuters.

During the write up of the thesis, it has become clear that applying the concept of bike-sharing to medium-sized towns can foster local environmental sustainability. Nonetheless, it has also become apparent that bike-sharing is more suitable and beneficial to large cities compared to medium-sized towns. The reasons for this are manifold and include aspects like short paths and a less voluminous traffic volume, dysfunctional public transport systems that do not allow for multimodality, as well as the competition through own personal bikes.

You can download the thesis here: