Title: Measuring the impact of opening the London shared bicycle scheme to casual users
Prepared by: Neal Lathia, Saniul Ahmed, Licia Capra
Prepared for: Elsevier Transportation Research
Date: December 2011
Summary: The increasing availability of sensor data in urban areas now offers the opportunity to per-form continuous evaluations of transport systems and measure the effects of policy changes, in an empirical, large-scale, and non-invasive way. In this paper, we study one such example: the effect of changing the user-access policy in the London Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. When the scheme was launched in July 2010, users were required to apply for a key to access to the system. By December 2010, this policy was overridden in order to allow for ‘‘casual’’ usage, so that anyone in possession of a debit or credit card could gain access. While the transport authority measured the policy shift’s success by the increased number of trips, we set out to investigate how the change affected the system’s usage throughout the city. We present an extensive analysis of station data collected from the scheme’s web site both pre- and post-policy change, showing how differences in both global and local behaviour can be measured, and how the policy change correlates with a variety of effects observed around the city. We ﬁnd that, as expected, quicker access to the system correlates with greater week end usage; it also reinforces the week-day commuting trend. In both the pre- and post-change periods, the geographic distribution of activity at individual stations forms concentric circles around central London. However, upon policy change, a number of stations undergo a complete usage change, now exhibiting an opposite trend with respect to that which they had prior to the policy change.