What Determines Bicycle Share Usage?

A recent study synthesizes Capital Bikeshare data in order to help planners assess and improve bike sharing as a viable transportation investment. As the system expands into suburban DC, this research may help predict where it can succeed.

When Washington D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) program decided to make their trip history data available to the public, they were hoping that an enterprising researcher would use that data to make significant discoveries. Well, after lees than two years of operation, that decision is already bearing fruit.

Utilizing open trip data provided by CaBi, David Daddio, a master's student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has published a master's paper this month that presents some intriguing findings about how culture and urban spaces affect the way people use bikeshare, which he hopes can help cities refine their bikeshare systems as they grow and mature.

Daddio analyzed the factors behind the number of trips at different Capital Bikeshare stations using a detailed regression of trips taken from stations in the District of Columbia in October 2011. After controlling for 14 variables, the analysis concludes that 5 key factors are associated with a station's usage:

- The population aged 20-39
- The level of non-white population
- The retail density, using alcohol licenses as a proxy
- Whether Metrorail stations are nearby
- The distance from the center of the CaBi system

Daddio measured each variable based on what's within a ¼-mile walk of each station. With that information, he created a suitability map that projects how much monthly ridership a station would get if the District placed one at any particular point in the city.

In the past, North American cities relied on international practices to inform feasibility analyses and planning processes for nascent bicycle share systems. With actual usage, membership, and revenue figures in hand, researchers are just beginning to understand the operational dynamics of the technology in the context of American culture and urban spatial structure. The results of this study point to several conclusions for the Washington region and beyond.

Thanks to David Daddio

Full Story: What makes some CaBI stations more used than others?

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