OK, there’s an amazing bike share data website made by a British geographer and data visualization expert named Oliver O’Brien, that has real time information showing bike share dock availability for dozens of bike share programs all over the world.
Here’s the snap shot of Nice Ride MN dock usage as of a few minutes ago:
[Feel free to update it to see the latest version.]
Click around and see some cities in other countries. Looking at the map, you can see which of the stations are “empty” or “full” at any given time, and how difficult it becomes to do “rebalancing” for a bike share system.
Rebalancing is the idea that bike share systems need to continually bring bikes back and forth from full to empty stations. For example, in Paris, France’s Velib bike share system, the largest in the world, people continually ride bikes *down* the steep Montmartre hill. But, understandably, they rarely ride them back up the hill again. That means that the bike share planners need to continually “rebalance” the bikes up the hill, in a rather continual manner. In response, Velib planners incentivize people to ride the bikes up the hill for them, by giving bicyclists a free 15-minute bonus for doing so.
Luckily Minneapolis is rather flat, so Nice Ride rebalancing is more about demand than topography. And because Nice Ride has lower overall usage rates (trips per bike per day) than many of the bike share systems in larger cities (e.g. Washington DC), their rebalancing costs are a bit lower than some others.
Note: I’ll be putting up charts and graphs about Nice Ride all week long, as part of our ongoing Crowdsource Bike Share Planning efforts. If you’d like to participate in this project, and earn a free Nice Ride membership, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or read this post.