Identifying the Leaders: Applying Diffusion of Innovation Theory to Use of a Public Bikeshare System in Vancouver, Canada

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Therrien, S., Brauer, M., Fuller, D., Gauvin, L., Teschke, K., & Winters, M. (2014). Identifying the Leaders: Applying Diffusion of Innovation Theory to Use of a Public Bikeshare System in Vancouver, Canada. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, (2468), 74-83. DOI: 10.3141/2468-09

Date created: 
DOI: 10.3141/2468-09
Bike share
Population health
Social marketing
Diffusion of innovation theory

Public bike share programs are growing in popularity globally with increasing recognition of their potential and accrued benefits for mobility, health, and the environment. Any city planning to launch a program will be keenly interested in understanding who may use it, in order to enable strategic marketing that will facilitate quick uptake and adoption. We applied the Diffusion of Innovation Theory to data from a population-based telephone survey to characterize who is most likely to use a new public bike share program. The telephone survey of 901 Vancouver residents was conducted prior to the launch of Vancouver's public bike share program. Results showed that a majority (n=614/901, 69.1%, 95% CI: 66.3%/72.7%) of respondents thought that public bike share was a good idea, however, only a quarter (n=217/901, 24.2%, 95% CI: 21.1%, 27.3%) said they would be either likely or very likely to use the program. Logistic regression identified characteristics associated with greater and lower likelihood of use. These characteristics were used to create an adoption curve that defines population segments anticipated to be the leaders in adopting the program. The theory was used to develop implementation recommendations to maximize program uptake including ensuring that the program has tangible advantages over driving or transit; is affordable and easy to try out; integrates with transit and car share opportunities; and appeals to social trends such as environmental responsibility. These results can assist planning and promotion in cities set to launch public bike share programs.

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Rights remain with the authors.
Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)