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The cities of Paris, London, Chicago, and New York (among many others) have set up bike-share systems to facilitate the use of bicycles for urban commuting. This paper estimates the impact of two facets of system performance on bike-share ridership: accessibility (how far the user must walk to reach stations) and bike-availability (the likelihood of finding a bicycle). We obtain these estimates from a structural demand model for ridership estimated using data from the Vélib’ system in Paris. We find that every additional meter of walking to a station decreases a user’s likelihood of using a bike from that station by 0.194% (±0.0693%), and an even more significant reduction at higher distances (>300 m). These estimates imply that almost 80% of bike-share usage comes from areas within 300 m of stations, highlighting the need for dense station networks. We find that a 10% increase in bike-availability would increase ridership by 12.211% (±1.097%), three-fourths of which comes from fewer abandonments and the rest of which comes from increased user interest. We illustrate the use of our estimates in comparing the effect of adding stations or increasing bike-availabilities in different parts of the city, at different times, and in evaluating other proposed improvements.

This paper was accepted by Vishal Gaur, operations management.

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