Thursday, October 25, 2012

CycleUshare Research Paper Accepted at Major Transportation Conference

The first paper that we wrote related to the operation of this project has been accepted to the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington DC in January. The paper received strong reviews and will hopefully make it into the Transportation Research Record Journal. Many of our users were a part of the study either passively (by using the system) or actively (by us interviewing them and discussing particular trips). A sneak preview of the paper:

North America’s first electric bicycle share: A year of experience 

by B.C. Langford, C. Cherry, T. Yoon, S. Worley, and D. Smith 


The integration of electric bicycles (e-bikes) with bicycle sharing can potentially increase the utility of bike sharing by reducing some barriers to bicycling and increasing the amount of prospective users. North America’s first e-bike sharing system (cycleUshare) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers a new, sustainable transportation option for students, faculty, and staff.  The cycleUshare system is a small pilot test with two stations to research the technology and user experiences. This paper presents an overview of the cycleUshare system and reports experiences from the first year of operation. With 93 enrolled users, cycleUshare provides a unique opportunity to study not only the system use, but also how individual users make trips with both regular and electric bicycles and the factors that influence those trips. The study finds that only 22% of users account for 81% of the trips. Factors of speed and convenience play major roles in participant’s decisions to use the system, and speed and comfort are the most influential factors in selection of an e-bike over a regular bicycle. Most of the reported trips are class related, although e-bikes are found to be used for a wide variety of trip purposes. Walking is the mode most displaced by the system indicating that e-bike sharing expands user mobility. Additionally user perceptions about bicycle types are explored. This model of electric bicycle sharing is found to be effective at attracting users to both regular and electric bicycles and is capable of expanding user mobility.

Still Moving Forward on New Software/Electronics

New Bike and Battery Rack Controller
Our systems are still running, but with some reliability problems. We have two problems (one at each station) that are both software related in different ways. We are very excited with the results of some of our field tests (you might notice the five positions on the right of the Ag Campus station are shut down for testing). The next step is tying it all together with a slick user interface, or a functional one at least. We have great programmers/electrical engineers from University of Tennessee and a recent grad from University of Washington working hard on getting a robust solution on the ground, which is quite exciting.
Field testing

Though delayed, our new system that will be released to the world with be modular, compact, efficient, customizable, and non-proprietary.