Where to optimally place bike-share docks is a complex problem and different cities have various ways of sourcing new locations.
For example, the New York City department of transportation previously launched an online map to crowdsource suggestions, and there is a similar suggestion map for Boston’s bike-share as well. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Planning Association showed that only 5% of new docks placed in the 2014-2015 New York Citi Bike expansion were located within 100 feet of suggested locations. This does not imply that the NYC’s DOT ignored the suggestions. Optimal dock locations depend on a variety of factors, such as proximity to other transit options, or the viability of removing parking or sidewalk space to make way for docks, as well as how additional docks will complement the placement of existing docks.
In the Boston area, the Bluebikes bike-share system (previously Hubway) is owned by a partnership of multiple adjacent municipalities: Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, and recently the city of Everett joined the partnership. The city of Cambridge actively welcomes businesses and property owners to sponsor the installation of docks near them, creating another mechanism to source the location of stations.
Other dockless bike-share and scooter systems are entering the landscapes of these cities as well, such as Ant bicycles, or Lime scooters. They may have the potential to reach the areas that city-owned bike-share systems have not, but they do not openly provide their data (as of 2019).
The companies that operate the city-owned bike-share systems such as those in New York (Citi bike) and Boston (Bluebike) are required by contract or local law to compile and provide usage data. We can imagine cities compelling the other bike, scooter, and micromobility providers that operate within them to openly provide their data as well. This data would help city planners, traffic engineers, and researchers better understand the impacts and potential for these new mobility systems on our streets.