What Will it Take to Better Balance Bike Share Systems?

As we've noted here, some of the most popular bike share systems have been victims of their own success, with high use docking stations often full or empty - depending on the time of day. Henry Grabar examines efforts to automate the rebalancing act.
October 26, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Rebalancing is the most crucial problem plaguing the world's steadily growing portfolio of urban bike share systems, writes Henry Grabar. "The solution is a fleet of trucks and vans that reposition bicycles from what academics call 'attractive' stations to 'repulsive' stations. On the one hand, this is ironic: Bike share is widely praised as a sustainable transit solution but requires the round-the-clock service of heavy vehicles to keep it primed for operation."

"But it’s a crucial element of a successful system. If bike share is to be taken seriously as a transit mode — and its staunchest supporters believe it is an indispensable tool in the planner’s arsenal — it must be able to meet the demands of professional life," he adds. "Every time a user is unable to find a bike or a place to park, the system’s reliability is jeopardized." 

Can computerized tools and algorithms solve the problem?

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Published on Thursday, October 24, 2013 in Salon
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