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London and Chicago lead in bike-share usability

Insights from schemes show that data can be better used to deliver optimised rider experiences and to grow bike-share schemes

Bike-share schemes need to work as well or better than existing public transport options
Bike-share schemes need to work as well or better than existing public transport options

Provider of bike-share scheme management solutions Stage Intelligence has released its 2016 Q4 data on bicycle and docking station usability and availability across bike-share schemes in London, Paris, New York and Chicago.


The findings show London leads the group with an average usability figure for the quarter of 99.4 per cent closely followed by Chicago at 99.3 per cent for the quarter.


But Stage Intelligence sounded a note of caution that London’s high rating could be a result of “over servicing its market” which can create unnecessary costs and limit growth.


New York City ranks the lowest of the major cities with an average usability figure of 90.2 per cent for the quarter. It means that on average 10 per cent of riders at any given time cannot access the bikes or docking stations they want, according to Stage Intelligence.


Paris follows New York City with an average usability of 98.1 per cent with usability dipping to lows of 76.7 per cent. The inconsistency in the scheme means that it may be difficult for riders to depend on the scheme on a daily basis.


“Bike-share riders and cities benefit from Schemes that are easy and reliable to use,” said Tom Nutley, head of operations at Stage Intelligence.


“Operators need to make sure that riders have access to bikes when and where they need them without over servicing the market. This is where the London scheme could be at most risk. The data is very positive for London but it could be using too much city resources to manage its operations especially when there is no need to.”


Stage’s usability measure compares all docking stations that are within easy walking or cycling distance in a published 500 metre radius from each other, which can be altered by the BICO platform.


The platform takes into account each city’s service level agreements (SLAs) when measuring the usability of a bike share scheme. A docking station is usable if there are bikes and docking points available at the station itself or at one or more of its neighbours.


Stage Intelligence said the neighbourhood approach goes beyond the usual cluster and geographic data collection method which may be a sub-optimal approach – especially in larger schemes. It can identify if bike-share schemes are managed well and if it is over or under servicing the cities and its riders.


The BICO platform can also set custom usability defined by a specific threshold or the SLAs of different cities.


"For bike-share schemes to be seen as a real, public transport solution and a smart answer to urban mobility, they need to work as good or better than existing public transport services,” added Paul Stratta, director, at Platform for European Bicycle Sharing & Systems (PEBSS), an initiative from the ECF.


“Nowadays people go to bus and railway stations expecting the services to be there, and for it to operate on time. It should be the same with bike-share schemes. Collecting and analysing data allows bike-share operators, and their city clients, to get a big picture of operations and understand where bike-share can improve and how exactly to do it.”


If you like this, you might be interested in reading the following:


Simplifying bike-share schemes

Stage has announced an introductory offer to allow small-to-medium bike share operators to leverage AI

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Manchester in Mobike European first

Mobike will work with councils and developers to identify the most suitable locations to expand the programme

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Dockless in Seattle

It is the second bike-sharing service to launch in the city this month

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