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Bike-sharing has many health benefits

Feb. 10, 2011 at 7:57 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Israeli scientists say high-tech tools could help make bike-sharing, which has many public health benefits, a viable transportation choice.

Dr. Tal Raviv and Michal Tzur of Tel Aviv University say riding bicycles decreases air pollution -- which can trigger heart attacks and asthma -- and increases physical activity. Bike-sharing has become popular in cities such as Paris, which has 1,700 pick-up and drop-off stations.

Bike-sharing -- good for commuting and short errands -- allows a subscriber to "borrow" a bike from one city location and return it to another -- often a train or bus station. However, as the practice catches on, problems have developed including users not being able to return a bike because a station is full. There is also frustration when a station runs out of bikes to lend out.

The researchers suggest a software solution. They have developed a mathematical model with methods and algorithms to solve the routing and scheduling problems of trucks moving bikes, as well as other operational and design challenges bike-sharing presents.

"There is no system for more scientifically managing the availability of bikes, creating dissatisfaction among users in popular parts of the city," Raviv says in a statement.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences in Austin, Texas.

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