Do metro interruptions increase the demand for public rental bicycles?

By Joris Klingen

Urban policy makers in many cities are promoting cycling as part of a sustainable and reliable transport system. Cycling is linked to several positive outcomes. There are health benefits, it does not generate pollution, and bicycles make more efficient use of road capacity compared to cars. One of the ways through which cities encourage cycling is by providing a public bicycle system (PBS). The first PBS was introduced in Amsterdam in 1965, while today, more than thousand public bicycle schemes worldwide host over two million rental bicycles.

In a recent paper, we examine the role of a PBS in relation to public transport. We study changes in demand for public rental bicycles following local and temporary metro interruptions in Paris. The research is carried out by linking usage data of the Parisian PBS Vélib’ with data on metro interruptions as announced by the transport operator on its Twitter feeds. The metro interruptions then serve as natural experiments to measure the effect of negative shocks in metro supply on the demand for rental bicycles.

The results show that demand for bicycles increases in case of a metro interruption nearby. The findings highlight that cycling is a local net substitute for metro service, and that public rental bicycles can alleviate time losses stemming from metro interruptions. In general, by providing a temporary alternative transport mode, a public bicycle system can reduce vulnerability of transport networks.


Klingen, J. (2018). Do metro interruptions increase the demand for public rental bicycles? Evidence from Paris. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.


March, 2019



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