Bike-sharing: the good, the bad, and the future
An analysis of the public discussion on Twitter
Due to the dilemma of bike-sharing concerning its benefits and drawbacks, and its unclear future, we focused on a mixed-methods approach to analyze this public discussion through posts or “tweets” from the social media channel Twitter. We collected around 12,000 tweets in English around the world related to bike-sharing for a period of about six months. We considered two approaches, including topic clustering and sentiment analysis in tweets including: a) bike-sharing related terms and b) “future” and bike-sharing related terms. Strongly positive tweets promote bike-sharing and its benefits such as being convenient, well-performing, and sustainable. Additionally, there is a tendency to write that public, electric, and dockless are better, together with scooters. In contrast, the complaints on bike-sharing focused on inequity, rentals and safety issues, critique on authorities and laws, and poor performance especially of dockless Asian bike-sharing start-ups with low-quality bikes. Around 50% of the tweets that included the terms “future” and “bike–sharing” stated that bike-sharing is going to be part of the future of mobility as an electric dockless version together with other shared modes. The hesitant statements towards bike-sharing being part of the future referred mainly to the systems with poor bikes’ quality. Politicians and stakeholders can use this information to enhance bike-sharing or consider the implementation of certain types of bike-sharing in their cities. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study would be one of the first that analysis the public discussion on social media about a transportation system and its future using a mixed-methods approach. Future studies should aim at identifying and comparing the public opinion of different emerging transportation technologies.