1.75 - Bike-Sharing Systems - Demand, Location and Impacts

Project Description

Mobility is a cornerstone to territorial and social development in the world. Growing technological progress, the improvement of economic and social conditions over the last years has contributed to the change in mobility patterns currently centered on the excessive use of individual motorized transport. The world is increasingly facing environmental problems caused by transport traffic. For that reason, the promotion of sustainable transport alternatives has been seen in the past few decades as one of the assets to reduce the negative externalities related to the transportation sector in urban areas. The adoption of policies contributing to a modal shift and, consequently, improving the environment and people life quality is urgent and needed. Bike-sharing systems increased their popularity consistently as transport alternatives in urban areas, and the number of bike-sharing schemes has grown significantly worldwide in recent years. These systems' success depends on their implementation design. They must be capable of answering peoples' needs, maximizing the investment benefits, as these are the first concerns of the decision-makers. This research focuses on bike-sharing system design. It intends to develop and provide strategic and practical methods and tools for transportation planners, policymakers, and investors' decision-making. The main achievements of this decision support methodology are to define the potential demand relating it with the local characteristics, to design the system in terms of location of the stations, number of bicycles, and the dimension of the relocation process, considering the maximization of potential demand and the possible investment, and to estimate the environmental impacts. As an outcome, two different approaches address the demand estimation on bike-sharing systems. The first approach provides a quick assessment adapted to local characteristics. The second methodology uses regression analysis to understand the variables that influence the demand using an existing bike-sharing system (Boston bike-sharing system). The design of the system uses an optimization model that defines the location of the bicycle stations, the fleet size, the capacity of the stations, and the number of bicycles in each station, considering an initial investment lower than the given budget. In addition, it balances the annual cost of the system and the revenue, assuming the possibility of a supplementary budget. This budget from the system provider can cover any loss resulting from the shortfall between its operating cost and the revenue from the subscription charges. Environmental impacts are estimated considering the traffic reduction resultant from a bike-sharing implementation, focused on small Particulate Matter (PM2.5). The results indicate a non-homogeneous relation between traffic reduction and emission reduction across the urban space due to the characteristics of the roads (such as street characteristics and driving conditions), achieving 12.5% of daily PM2.5 emissions in some urban roads. The work produced in this thesis provides a tool for the design implementation of bike-sharing systems and constitutes a solid starting point for planning and implementing this transport mode.

Research Team

  • Inês Cardoso Frade
  • Anabela Ribeiro (supervisor)

Financial Support

  • FCT – SFRH/BD/51586/2011. Refª CRM:0066209
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2022