With real-time decisions, Citi Bike breaks the cycle of empty stations

Melanie Lefkowitz at Cornell Chronicle: “Cornell research has improved bike sharing in New York and other cities, providing tools to ensure bikes are available when and where they’re needed through a crowdsourcing system that uses real-time information to make decisions.

Citi Bike redistributes its bicycles around New York City using a program called Bike Angels, based on research by David Shmoys, the Laibe/Acheson Professor of Business Management and Leadership Studies in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering.

Through Bike Angels, which Shmoys helped Citi Bike develop three years ago, cyclists earn points adding up to free rides and other prizes by using or returning bikes at certain high-need stations. Originally, Bike Angels awarded points for the same pattern of stations every morning, and a different fixed pattern each afternoon rush; now the program uses an algorithm that continually updates the pattern of stations for which users earn points.

“The ability to make decisions that are sensitive to exactly what are today’s conditions enables us to be much more effective in assigning those points,” said Shmoys, who is also associate director of Cornell’s Institute for Computational Sustainability.

With co-authors Hangil Chung ’18 and Daniel Freund, Ph.D. ’18, Shmoys wrote “Bike Angels: An Analysis of Citi Bike’s Incentive Program,” a detailed report showing the effectiveness of this approach. …(More)”.