Researchers look to close the gap between bike-sharing programs
Eliseo Ceja | April 10, 2019
Imagine this: you’re in a rush to get to your next meeting, which is a couple blocks away from your current location. What would you do?
Ride a Lyft?
Catch an Uber?
Join a carpool?
Run there so you won’t be late?
Instead of those options, many people are turning to a popular mode of transportation -bike-sharing, which is efficient and affordable. Texas State’s Zhijie Sasha Dong, assistant professor, Ingram School of Engineering and graduate student Lingyu Meng look to close the gap between public bike systems and bike sharing systems in big cities like Nanjing, the capital of China’s Jiangsu Province.
The differences between the two are clear. Public bike systems are operated by government-affiliated companies and have special docking systems, while bike-sharing systems are privately-owned, dockless and mostly handled through mobile apps.
As for similarities between public bike systems and bike-sharing systems, both “cannot only solve travel needs of users, but also save energy and resources,” said Dong.
The Texas State research group found that public bike systems are not used as often as bike-sharing systems. They also found that public bike systems tend to have an older demographic, while bike-sharing systems have younger users. Older generations may not want to navigate through the apps required for a bike-sharing system and would rather grab a bike from a dock and ride to the dock closest to their destination, Dong says. And younger generations rather join an app and don’t want to worry about returning a bike to a dock.
The research group is now looking into how they can make both sharing systems more efficient for users. For example, organizations could provide one platform for both systems. Texas State researchers also plan to look into the optimization of both systems, providing a variation of locations and bicycles, making it easier for people to use both systems.