Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Operational Reesearch and the urban cyclist

I am committed to cycling as a sensible means of transport, even though my own cycling has not been completely accident-free. The other day I was musing on whether there is much literature about O.R. and cycling. And then I heard about eBourbaki, which describes itself as "a mathematical problem-solving company" (no mention of O.R.!) and the competition that had been run to model cycle-hire facilities in London. Readers of "OR/MS Today" will have seen that one of the political conventions modeled the location of cycle-loan facilities in 2008. eBourbaki run their problems as competitions, and the winners created two mathematical models with one describing commuter flow and the other examining the possible configuration of any bicycle stations.

It is to be hoped that the city will work with the winners and consider using their solutions and models in the network design.

The models suggested that, for a London-based scheme to be successful, 12 large bicycle stations should be placed near railway stations in central London with 250 smaller stations distributed throughout the West End and the City of London. An average of 20 bikes per small station was found to be the most efficient number.

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