Exploring the potential role of bikeshare to complement public transit: The case of San Francisco amid the coronavirus crisis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, technology - passenger information, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice


COVID19, Bikeshare, Transit service, Visual analytics, Spatial analysis, Resilience of urban transport systems


The recent worldwide SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has reshaped the way people live, how they access goods and services, and how they perform various activities. For public transit, there have been health concerns over the potential spread to transit users and transit service staff, which prompted transportation agencies to make decisions about the service, e.g., whether to reduce or temporarily shut down services. These decisions had substantial negative consequences, especially for transit-dependent travelers, and prompted transit users to explore alternative transportation modes, e.g., bikeshare. However, local governments and the public in general have limited information about whether and to what extent bikeshare provides adequate accessibility and mobility to those transit-dependent residents. To fill this gap, this study implemented spatial and visual analytics to identify how micro-mobility in the form of bikesharing has addressed travel needs and improved the resilience of transportation systems. The study analyzed the case of San Francisco in California, USA, focusing on three phases of the pandemic, i.e., initial confirmed cases, shelter-in-place, and initial changes in transit service. First, the authors implemented unsupervised machine learning clustering methods to identify different bikesharing trip types. Moreover, through spatiotemporally matching bikeshare ridership data with transit service information (i.e., General Transit Feed Specification, GTFS) using the tool called OpenTripPlanner (OTP), the authors studied the travel behavior changes (e.g., the proportion of bikeshare trips that could be finished by transit) for different bikeshare trip types over the three specified phases. This study revealed that during the pandemic, more casual users joined bikeshare programs; the proportion of recreation-related bikeshare trips increased; and routine trips became more prevalent considering that docking-station-based bikeshare trips increased. More importantly, the analyses also provided insights about mode substitution, because the analyses identified an increase in dockless bikeshare trips in areas with no or limited transit coverage.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.