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PLOS ONE  2013 

The Impact of Cost and Network Topology on Urban Mobility: A Study of Public Bicycle Usage in 2 U.S. Cities

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079396

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Abstract:

Understanding the drivers of urban mobility is vital for epidemiology, urban planning, and communication networks. Human movements have so far been studied by observing people's positions in a given space and time, though most recent models only implicitly account for expected costs and returns for movements. This paper explores the explicit impact of cost and network topology on mobility dynamics, using data from 2 city-wide public bicycle share systems in the USA. User mobility is characterized through the distribution of trip durations, while network topology is characterized through the pairwise distances between stations and the popularity of stations and routes. Despite significant differences in station density and physical layout between the 2 cities, trip durations follow remarkably similar distributions that exhibit cost sensitive trends around pricing point boundaries, particularly with long-term users of the system. Based on the results, recommendations for dynamic pricing and incentive schemes are provided to positively influence mobility patterns and guide improved planning and management of public bicycle systems to increase uptake.

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