Thursday, June 12, 2014

Radical change underway in Brooklyn rebalancing efforts

We’re witnessing a radical change in Citi Bike’s rebalancing efforts in Brooklyn. Fully 81 percent of the NotSpots this week are full stations.  For the quarter, full stations in Brooklyn account for just 11 percent of all NotSpots.

And these stations are staying nonproductive longer than average  -- 6.6 hours vs. 4.6 hours for the quarter.

It’s such a dramatic change in the established pattern that it must be part of a new rebalancing strategy.
Our theory is this:
  • Stations that stay full for long periods of time are the most benign of NotSpots. The app tells you at the outset not to go there.
  • So riders choose the next best station and those next  bests fill up more rapidly, potentially preventing an empty station later in the day.

Meanwhile, there’s mounting evidence that Citi Bike is getting more aggressive about rebalancing some Brooklyn’s chronic NotSpots.

Let us escort you back to the corner of DeKalb & Vanderbilt in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill. Faithful followers of this blog will remember our 14-day chronicle of the bike station there. After a rebalance, the station emptied every weekday morning and stayed empty for hours, ending only when a rainstorm allowed it to refill.

Check out the top screenshot, taken Tuesday at 11 am. It shows the usual pattern, nearly emptying at 9 am. But this time a rebalance crew arrived with about 10 bikes.

The second screenshot, taken June 3 at 4 pm shows DK&V going NotSpot at 8 am and a crew arriving an hour later, again with about 10 bikes.

We’ve seen this aggressive rebalancing happen on other occasions; we’ve just neglected to take a screenshot. And we’ve seen it happen at other stations in Brooklyn and in Manhattan that were suffering from chronic inattention.

This could be really good news.

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