Although bike share systems are becoming more popular across the United States, little is known about how people make decisions when integrating these systems into their daily travel.
In a study funded by CTS, researchers from the U of M’s civil engineering department investigated how people use the Nice Ride bike share system in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The researchers examined how Nice Ride affects accessibility to jobs and developed a model to predict station choice.
In the first part of the study, the researchers created maps showing accessibility to jobs by census block for both Nice Ride and walking—as well as the difference between the two—at time thresholds ranging from 5 to 55 minutes.
Overall, in blocks with both Nice Ride and walking job accessibility, Nice Ride provides access to 0.5 to 3.21 times as many jobs as walking.
By comparing Nice Ride to walking, the study demonstrated that walking can successfully be used as a baseline to show how a bike share system improves job accessibility. The results also pinpointed when and where Nice Ride had the strongest accessibility advantage over walking.
“This type of information can be used by bike share system planners to identify where new stations could be built to maximize their impact on job accessibility,” says grad student Jessica Schoner, a member of the research team.
In addition, the team developed a theoretical model for bike share station choice. The model considers users’ choice of a station based on their preference for the amount of time spent walking, deviation from the shortest path (the closest station may not be in the direct path of the person’s destination), and station amenities and neighborhood characteristics.
Findings show that people generally prefer to use stations that don’t require long detours to reach, but a station’s surroundings also play an important role. Results also indicate that commuters value shorter trips and tend to choose stations that minimize overall travel time.
According to Schoner, understanding people’s station preference can help provide guidance to planners that want to expand or optimize a bike share system.
Read the full article in the January issue of Catalyst.