Research by the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis was presented today in Edinburgh at the annual international conference of the Royal Geographical Society. The research delves into the attitudes - and routes - of users of city bike hire schemes in over 50 cities worldwide.
UCL researcher Oliver O'Brien, said:
"The habits of cycle scheme users across the world differ in many surprising ways. In Europe the Parisians on average leave for work earlier and cycle home later than both Londoners and Brussels-dwellers, while in Changshu in China, commuter pedalling peaks even appear at weekends.
"Bike sharing is appearing in unexpected places such as Rio de Janiero where beach-side bike shares alongside Copacabana beach make it one of the most active public schemes in the world."
In China, city bikes are often better maintained than users own bikes.
While in Washington DC and Boston, cyclists share very similar traits to the commuting patterns of Europeans, in other North American cities such as Minneapolis and Denver they are more likely to cycle for leisure on weekends.
There are now more than 450 public bike schemes across the world, with 44 schemes set to go live over the next 12 months in the United States alone. The research concludes that the most successful schemes to date have been found where there is the highest density of docking stations in the city centre.
O'Brien said: "With our research and mapping tool, the data can be used in the future to classify cities and predict how successful a bike scheme would be looking at the geography, structure and the size of the city."