Bike sharing is an internationally implemented system for reducing public transit congestion, minimizing carbon emissions, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Since New York City’s launch of the CitiBike program in May 2013, however, various issues have arisen due to overcrowding and general flow. In response to these issues, CitiBike employees redistribute bicycles by vehicle throughout the New York City area. During the past year, over 500,000 bikes have been redistributed in this fashion. This solution is financially taxing, environmentally and economically inefficient, and often suffers from timing issues. What if CitiBike instead used its clientele to redistribute bicycles?
In this talk, we will describe the data analysis that we conducted in hopes of creating an incentive and rerouting scheme for riders to self-balance the system. We anticipate that we can decrease vehicle transportations by offering financial incentives to take bikes from relatively full stations and return bikes to relatively empty stations (with rerouting advice provided via an app). We used publicly available data obtained via the CitiBike website, consisting of starting and ending locations, times, and user characteristics for each trip taken from July 2013 through May 2014. Using this dataset, we estimated CitiBike traffic flow, which enabled us to build agent-based simulation models in response to incentives and rerouting information. By estimating various parameters under which to organize incentive schemes, we found that such a program would help to improve CitiBike’s environmentalism and increase productivity, as well as being financially beneficial for both CitiBike and its riders.