Title: A Systems Perspective of Cycling and Bike-sharing Systems in Urban Mobility
Prepared by: Ashwani Kumar (National University of Singapore), Kwong Meng Teo(National University of Singapore), Amedeo R. Odoni (MIT)
Summary: Urban mobility is a prevalent problem in many cities around the world. Cycling offers a fast and cheap transportation option for short-distance trips, with smaller carbon and physical footprint than driving a car. Cycling can also encourage a modal shift from private car to public transport by providing efficient last mile connections. This has led to a renewed interest to promote cycling in cities, manifesting in a growing number of bike-sharing projects with larger bicycle fleets. However, the economic sustainability of these bike-sharing systems has not been demonstrated. Moreover, city governments may invest resources in bike-sharing projects at the expense of developing policies or infrastructure to improve cycling safety and convenience. We take a systems perspective to study how bike-sharing and other policies can influence cycling as a transport mode in the urban mobility problem. We observe that while bike-sharing projects may increase cycling level and generate public demand for better cycling infrastructure in the short run, loss-making bike-sharing projects can discourage the infrastructure investments over the long-run, thereby hampering cycle adoption. Public funds should not be invested in bike-sharing programs at the cost of cycling infrastructure. Instead, governments should facilitate economically viable bike-sharing systems by the private sector through adoption of appropriate policies. Investments in cycling infrastructure should come first.