About bike-sharing systems
It’s no surprise that city bike sharing programs have exploded in popularity the last decade. Accessibility and affordability have helped to promote the concept of a short-term bike rental system as a win-win for just about anyone who is willing to ditch the use of a car for a bike. Commuters can leave the stress of congested downtown traffic at the car park. Tourists can enjoy meandering without having to hassle with multiple bus transfers, taxi fares and sore feet. Each can be rented through a mobile app . A user scans a QR code on a bike with his phone, which automatically unlocks the machine. It can then be ridden and parked at a bicycle parking bay near the user's destination. Charges stop once the bike is locked. And Mother Nature gets the benefit of a little bit less smog after a weekday commute.
Cycling is widely associated with benefits in terms of the environment, society, and economy . The combined use of a bicycle and public transport for a trip, which has been regarded as part of the solution for achieving a more sustainable transport, has grown over the past few years . Recently, bicycle-sharing programs, with initiatives to increase bike use and improve “the last mile” of urban transit, have received increasing attention in more and more cities across the world . Published studies have shown that for both utilitarian and recreational purposes, cycling has increased in some cities that are operating bicycle-sharing systems . Currently, more than 600 such systems are operating around the world, and many systems are being planned and will start operation in the near future .
Bike-sharing programs, with initiatives to increase bike use and improve accessibility of urban transit, have received increasing attention in growing number of cities across the world. The latest generation of bike-sharing systems has employed smart card technology that produces station-based data or trip-level data. This facilitates the studies of the practical use of these systems. However, few studies have paid attention to the changes in users and system usage over the years, as well as the impact of system expansion on its usage. Monitoring the changes of system usage over years enables the identification of system performance and can serve as an input for improving the location-allocation of stations. The objective of this study is to explore the impact of the expansion of a bicycle-sharing system on the usage of the system. This was conducted for a bicycle sharing system in Zhongshan (China), using operational usage data of different years following system expansion. To this end, we performed statistical and spatial analyses to examine the changes in both users and system usage between before and after the system expansion. The findings show that there is a big variation in users and aggregate usage following the system expansion. However, the trend in spatial distribution of demand shows no substantial difference over the years, i.e. the same high-demand and low-demand areas appear. There are decreases in demand for some old stations over the years, which can be attributed to either the negative performance of the system or the competition of nearby new stations. Expanding the system not only extends the original users’ ability to reach new areas but also attracts new users to use bike-sharing systems.
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