The Silicon Review
Globally, modernization and urbanization have reached unprecedented levels. This, in turn, has led to road congestion. Heavy traffic is often associated with safety risks, air pollution, and losses incurred in terms of accessibility, sustainable growth, economic competitiveness, and social cohesion. If you want to make the cities sustainable and attractive, you must respond to these challenges. There are several measures available to address the issues, but the one that stands out from the rest is the shared use of mobility resources, such as bike sharing. The most environmentally friendly alternative would be cycling, which more and more people are attracted to for short-distance commute.
PBSC Urban Solutions is one of the leading global providers of bike-sharing solutions for cities, and one of the first players in this industry. PBSC has installed its bike-sharing systems in over 40 cities, including Barcelona, London, Dubai, Toronto, Monaco, and Rio de Janeiro. PBSC thinks that shared micromobility plays a major role in providing cities with sustainable transportation. The company’s bike-share system helps reduce road congestion and keeps cars off the road, improves the quality of life, and positively impacts citizen health, the environment, and the economy. PBSC team develops, markets, and operates – directly through its subsidiary operator, or indirectly through a global network of local partners – the most advanced and customizable urban solutions for smart cities. The company’s bike-share system comprises regular bikes and electric bikes, as well as smart stations (solar-powered and electric-charging). PBSC offers a line of bicycles for cities, both mechanical like the FIT and award-winning ICONIC and electric-like its BOOST and E-FIT bikes. Ninety thousand bikes and 7,000 smart stations are deployed by PBSC around the world and account for more than 400 million rides so far.
PBSC Urban Solutions was founded in 2008, and it is based in Montreal, Canada.
In conversation with Luc Sabbatini, CEO of PBSC Urban Solutions
Q. What are the environmental benefits of bike sharing?
Bike-sharing systems allow people to choose a convenient, timesaving, and clean travel option instead of a more polluting one. Additionally, bike-sharing can significantly reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and the emission of harmful gases. Our stations are solar-powered in most of our cities. We’re proud of facilitating low-carbon travel in 2019; our systems in place were estimated to get 14,000 cars off the road – which represents a saving of 65,000 metric tons of CO2. Sustainability has always been at the heart of our work at PBSC. We build our bikes to last. Our system in Montreal, BIXI, is over decade old, and 98% of those bikes on the road ten years ago are still there today. Our electric bikes also have longer battery lives than any other comparable on the market.
Q. You can definitely save time from work using bike share but, what if there are no more available docks to lock your bike?
When operating the bike-sharing systems we provide, cities often have rebalancing teams on the ground, who make sure docks and bicycles remain available. However, if you find yourself at a station with no docks or no bikes, our app will show you where the closest other station available is located. Our app allows users to scan & go a QR code or Tap & go with NFC technology.
Q. Although bicycle share programs are generally safe, we know that there are inherent risks in riding a bicycle through the city. Tell us about the safety measures used for the riders?
Of course, cycling, like any other mode of transportation, carries an inherent risk, so cities recommend that users bring and wear their own helmets. However, there are far fewer accidents on bike-share bikes than on regular bikes. Our bikes are specifically designed with safety in mind, with sturdy frames and a low center of gravity, our bikes are easy and safe to ride. We also have reflective wheels and LED lights on our bikes to make them more visible for other people on the street. The more cities invest in bike lanes and other bike-friendly infrastructure; the safer and more convenient cycling will become in the city. Most of the cities in which our bikes are installed like Barcelona, Montreal, and New York City are renowned for having robust cycling infrastructure.
Q. How do you update your service by leveraging new technologies?
We’ve made countless improvements to our smart-stations, bicycles, and apps, as new technologies have become available and accessible. We have invested millions of dollars in a great deal of research and development. Our IT team has been able to integrate a MaaS (mobility as a service) vision in our system. Not only do we provide the systems themselves, but we also provide the back end and tech support needed to operate bike-sharing systems. We have integrated most of the transit card in cities to be used in our systems. We have also developed electric versions of our bikes, a game-changer in some cities and some commuters. Our recharging technology allows the system to know when and how long to recharge a bike. We have developed the capacity of quickly charging a bike.
Q. How do you market your services?
We participate in industry trade shows around the world, showcasing our product and technology. We also lead webinars and engage with people in the industry on social media. Our target audience is micromobility influencers, urban infrastructure planners, decision-makers within the municipalities responsible for transit dossiers.
Q. Do you have any new services/features ready to be launched?
We do! We’re experimenting with an adapted system to dock and recharge other modes of shared micro mobility, such as e-scooters. We have 150,000 docking stations throughout the world, all of which could at some point, receive e-scooters. We think there’s an opportunity for cities to be equipped multi-modal infrastructure for micromobility.
Meet the leader behind the success of PBSC Urban Solutions
Luc Sabbatini is CEO of PBSC, a leading global provider of sustainable mobility solutions for smart cities.
Deeply passionate about innovation, design, technology, and urban planning, each of Luc’s professional endeavours has destined him to hold his current role at PBSC. At Bell Media, he spearheaded the media activities of one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers. Luc strives to shape a world where every person can fulfill their purpose by taking advantage of the most affordable, sustainable and efficient mobility solutions possible. Over the past couple of years, Luc has propelled the growth of PBSC, to a world-renowned micromobility reference in the development, deployment and operation of bike sharing technologies.
A graduate of both HEC Montréal and Harvard University, Luc lives for PBSC’s vision, to change the world one city at a time, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of bike share users every day to join the movement. He’s featured in the prestigious Top 40 Under 40 list, and regularly shares his views on urban tech and mobility-as-a-service at conferences and industry events such as the World Cities Summit and the Ferrovial Mobility Executive Forum.