Expanding Exeter's E-Bike hire scheme

I had a chance encounter today on my morning cycle ride.  Stopped at the traffic lights, the rider next to me was riding one of Exeter's fleet of e-bikes.  I turned and asked if he used the scheme often, as it seems quite popular, and I haven't had a chance to talk to a user before.  His reply was that he managed the company, so was committed to it.  In the next minute we chatted about the expansion of the scheme - obtaining more e-bikes, setting up new recharging points where bikes can be collected or returned, and - of course - moaning about the difficulties for cyclists in the city.  Needless to say, there are O.R. problems here.  There have been research papers from other e-bike hire schemes relating to the management of transfers between these recharging points.  The location problem is another, with significant constraints - but O.R. has a history of analysing location problems with assorted constraints.

The interesting aspect of the e-bike location problem is that demand varies with time of day, so some methods which depend on using local population as a surrogate for demand (as in location problems for health facilities) isn't enough; you need to factor in the demand from residential areas and from business areas (during the working day) and the management of collection from car parks on the edge of the city.

Picture from co-bikes website - riding on the cobbles of Exeter's Cathedral Close

So the scheme is set to grow - I shall watch what happens with interest.  And then, later on, the local weekly newspaper had this report. 


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