Models for effective deployment and redistribution of bicycles within public bicycle-sharing systems

Jia Shu, Mabel C. Chou, Qizhang Liu, Chung Piaw Teo, I. Lin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)


We develop practical operations research models to support decision making in the design and management of public bicycle-sharing systems. We develop a network flow model with proportionality constraints to estimate the flow of bicycles within the network and the number of trips supported, given an initial allocation of bicycles at each station. We also examine the effectiveness of periodic redistribution of bicycles in the network to support greater flow, and the impact on the number of docks needed. We conduct our numerical analysis using transit data from train operators in Singapore. Given that a substantial proportion of passengers in the train system commute a short distance-more than 16% of passengers alight within two stops from the origin-this forms a latent segment of demand for a bicycle-sharing program. We argue that for a bicycle-sharing system to be most effective for this customer segment, the system must deploy the right number of bicycles at the right places, because this affects the utilization rate of the bicycles and how bicycles circulate within the system. We also identify the appropriate operational environments in which periodic redistribution of bicycles will be most effective for improving system performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1346-1359
Number of pages14
JournalOperations Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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