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Fun idea.

I suspect, based on my own experience, that bikeshares are extremely sensitive to increased inconvenience, and that almost no one would take the extra 30 seconds/7 touches/decision making/additional travel that would be necessary to voluntarily enroll.

A modification of your idea: make rebalancing trips free, in order to attract tourists and non-members who hadn't planned on riding. This would require prominent advertisement with real time information about which stations free trips are currently offered between.

My hypothesis would be that there is little you could do to entice existing users to deviate from pre-planned trips, but that curious onlookers who might otherwise walk or cab would consider it. This would have the added benefit of offering free test rides and growing the user base.

My thought is not that people would modify trips to rebalance (though they might), but that people who don't have any trip at all might rebalance. It turns out that biking is fun, and maybe for fun (combined with civic-mindedness) people would just decide to rebalance a bike. Move a bike a quarter of a mile and then walk back or something. Maybe they'd be more likely to do it in exchange for recognition or status (Oh! A gold key!) or free stuff. But the primary idea is that maybe people would do it just to be helpful.

If I'm going to ride a CaBi up Wisc from G'town to Cathedral,I'm gonna need something tangible,not some goofy gold key. Knock some off my annual subscription or have points towards prizes from sponsors(like burritos from CalTort),and I'll consider it. Also,figure out a way to do it without needing a smart phone,not all of us need them.

My thought is that this is going to be a common thought and that's OK. If 1% of members - and only those with smart phones - does this once a week, that could result in a lot less dockblocking. There's no way to do it without smartphones though, you need the real-time info.

I don't see what is wrong with rewarding people for doing what they were going to do anyway if what they are doing benefits CABI.

IOW, there is always going to be a number of reverse commuters. Giving a benefit for being a reverse commuter saves CABI from having to rebalance, and encourages more people to become reverse commuters. The only question is the cost.

Giving a benefit for being a reverse commuter saves CABI from ...

Not if it doesn't change anyone's behavior it doesn't. If CaBi went back and retroactively refunded the annual fee for heavy reverse commuters in 2011, for example, that would be all cost and no benefit.

It has to change behavior, in a way that benefits CaBi and to a degree that justifies the cost.

never underestimate the motivating power of pointless prizes, and recognition by one's peers.


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