Elizabeth Woyke at Technology Review: “Ask Tim Corcoran about the most popular destinations for bike-share trips in South Bend, Indiana, and he can give you a list, or even GPS latitude and longitude coordinates. As the city’s planning director, Corcoran is responsible for overseeing a program that enables residents to rent bicycles via a mobile app and then pick them up and drop them off pretty much wherever and whenever they want. He doesn’t actually run the rental service, though. Lime, a Silicon Valley startup, manages the program and keeps Corcoran in the loop via a steady stream of data about bike activity in South Bend.
Lime is able to collect this information because its bikes, like all those in dockless bike-share programs, are built to operate without fixed stations or corrals. …In the 18 months or so since dockless bike-share arrived in the US, the service has spread to at least 88 American cities. (On the provider side, at least 10 companies have jumped into the business; Lime is one of the largest.) Some of those cities now have more than a year of data related to the programs, and they’ve started gleaning insights and catering to the increased number of cyclists on their streets.
South Bend is one of those leaders. It asked Lime to share data when operations kicked off in June 2017. At first, Lime provided the information in spreadsheets, but in early 2018 the startup launched a browser-based dashboard where cities could see aggregate statistics for their residents, such as how many of them rented bikes, how many trips they took, and how far and long they rode. Lime also added heat maps that reveal where most rides occur within a city and a tool for downloading data that shows individual trips without identifying the riders. Corcoran can glance at his dashboard and see, for example, that people in South Bend have taken 340,000 rides, traveled 158,000 miles, and spent more than 7 million minutes on Lime bikes since the company started service. He can also see there are 700 Lime bikes active in the city, down from an all-time high of 1,200 during the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 football season….(More)”.