AAAI Publications, Twenty-Ninth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Incentivizing Users for Balancing Bike Sharing Systems
Adish Singla, Marco Santoni, Gábor Bartók, Pratik Mukerji, Moritz Meenen, Andreas Krause

Last modified: 2015-02-10


Bike sharing systems have been recently adopted by a growing number of cities as a new means of transportation offering citizens a flexible, fast and green alternative for mobility. Users can pick up or drop off the bicycles at a station of their choice without prior notice or time planning. This increased flexibility comes with the challenge of unpredictable and fluctuating demand as well as irregular flow patterns of the bikes. As a result, these systems can incur imbalance problems such as the unavailability of bikes or parking docks at stations. In this light, operators deploy fleets of vehicles which re-distribute the bikes in order to guarantee a desirable service level. Can we engage the users themselves to solve the imbalance problem in bike sharing systems? In this paper, we address this question and present a crowdsourcing mechanism that incentivizes the users in the bike repositioning process by providing them with alternate choices to pick or return bikes in exchange for monetary incentives. We design the complete architecture of the incentives system which employs optimal pricing policies using the approach of regret minimization in online learning. We investigate the incentive compatibility of our mechanism and extensively evaluate it through simulations based on data collected via a survey study. Finally, we deployed the proposed system through a smartphone app among users of a large scale bike sharing system operated by a public transport company, and we provide results from this experimental deployment. To our knowledge, this is the first dynamic incentives system for bikes re-distribution ever deployed in a real-world bike sharing system.


Bike sharing systems; mobility; crowdsourcing; mechanism design; incentive compatibility; smartphone app

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