Eye on The Collaborative Economy

In 2014 Forbes said the collaborative economy is changing everything. Yes, it’s a bold statement. But as analysts and experts dig deeper, they’re uncovering a virtually unlimited source of economic potential. In the new collaborative, or sharing economy, consumers are turning to each other to get the goods and services they previously bought from big businesses. So instead of going to a furniture store to buy a table, you can order one from the carpenter’s Etsy page. All you need is a technological device and a paperless currency and voila!

There’s a lot of focus on ride sharing, but we wanted to find out what role cycling plays in the collaborative economy. After all, bikes are the world’s most popular form of transit. (Really, there are an estimated 100 million bikes produced and sold a year, compared to 60 million cars). So, we turned to an expert. Jeremiah Owyang is the founder of Crowd Companies, a consulting group that helps large companies embrace the possibilities of the collaborative economy. An analyst, speaker and media expert, Owyang researches how disruptive technologies are changing the customer relationship.

There are many reasons why today’s consumers are embracing new commerce methods. Resources like space can be scarce, especially in dense urban areas. Many of us are also becoming more conscious about personal consumption and waste. That doesn’t mean that we’re buying less. It just means we’re buying differently. The revenue brought in by the shared economy was $41.2 billion in 2015 and it’s estimated to grow to $335 billion by 2025.

The idea has spread across all areas of commerce, especially transportation. Some are well known, like Uber and Lyft, and some are still flying under the radar, like the carpooling service TwoGo.

But back to bicycling.

Several major cities have adopted bike sharing programs including Paris’ Velib, London’s Santander Cycles and Hangzhou’s Public Bicycle. According to The World Bank, there are an estimated 822,000 bike share bikes in operation around the world.

More: 5 Tips to Start Spinning Your Wheels Somewhere New

Owyang also tells us why bike shares were a natural first-mover into the collaborative economy. “We do know that people who participate in these models like ‘Convenience’ and we all know bikes can really offer that in urban and some suburban environments”.

So what does a busy San Franciscan like Owyang ride? As you might expect he’s just as interested in convenience as the consumers he mentioned. “ I have a foldable bike… I can put it in the back of an Uber or Lyft, giving me multi-modal forms of transportation.”