, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 459-477
Date: 21 Jun 2012

Managing a smart bicycle system when demand outstrips supply: the case of the university community in Seville

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Of the many public initiatives used to promote the use of bicycles in the urban environment, the one that has achieved the most spectacular results in a short period of time is the public bicycle hire system. The experience of Seville is one of the most successful internationally, where 6.6 % of mechanised trips were being made by bicycle within 30 months. This paper analyses this experience in the university community, which represents one-third of system users. We conclude that the people who are most satisfied with the system are those who use it for leisure and recreation activities, non-residents of the city, more environmentally aware people and those who have no alternative mode of transportation. Their satisfaction is also closely linked to their appreciation of the bicycles’ level of comfort, the ease with which users can hire bicycles and return them and the small amount of paperwork involved required to sign up for the system. However, user appreciation has fallen over time because the system’s rapid success has caused it to become overloaded. This experience therefore provides one main lesson: the system’s success can result in eventual difficulties.