This research was funded by the Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP), a collaboration made possible by The JPB Foundation; and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) under grant number 884, a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University and a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center.
Bicycle commuting, Transportation -- Social aspects, Bicycle sharing programs
This report seeks to provide more information about lower-income people and people of color who engage in bike share, including why they choose to become members, how they use the system, and how they benefit. The report looks at current and past bike share members, along with those who were involved in some type of equity-based outreach program. The findings draw from a survey intended to reach lower-income and/or people of color known to have engaged in bike share, either through membership or participating in events such as organized rides, in the same three cities studied in the resident report (NITC-RR-884b) – New York (Brooklyn), Chicago and Philadelphia. With some variation by city, the survey was distributed to people who lived in or adjacent to neighborhoods targeted by equity-focused outreach efforts and had joined bike share, as well as people system-wide who participated in equity-focused programs, including discounts and events. Respondents were divided into three groups for analysis. Two groups consisted of users targeted for the equity-focused outreach efforts – lower-income individuals and people of color. One of these groups included those who took advantage of equity-focused discounts or related programs (“BBSP target users”); the other group included those who did not partake in such focused discounts or programs (“non-BBSP target users”). The third analysis group consisted of higher-income, white users.
Findings suggest that people in the BBSP target user group were less likely to have exposure to bike share through their existing networks (e.g., friends and family) or through their personal experiences (including using bike share in other places). They were more likely to have exposure to bike share through some of the intervention methods used in the outreach efforts, such as finding out about bike share at events or finding out about available discounts for them.
BBSP target users, in self-reported reasons for why they joined, were most likely to state either the cost savings or discounted membership, while other users were more likely to state the convenience of using bike share. This indicates that the discount programs are likely reaching people who would not otherwise join bike share. Moreover, about two-thirds of BBSP target users stated that they were “very likely” to renew their membership (the same as for the other groups), and they rode as frequently as other users. This is another indication that the discount programs are effective. Target users were more likely to pay monthly for bike share. However, in cities that offer a monthly and annual payment option, it could mean that lower-income people and people of color will be paying a higher effective rate than higher-income, white members.
In terms of bike share usage, all respondents were generally frequent users, with over half indicating that they make 11 or more bike share trips per month in good weather, with a third reporting making 20 or more trips per month. This suggests that once target users become members, perhaps with the help of a discount membership, they may use bike share as often as white, higher-income users. BBSP target users were more likely to ride just for fun or for exercise. Though not a large share of bike share trips, BBSP target users were also more likely to use bike share for school, daycare or religious-related trips, as well as for trips related to looking for work or job/skill training. Overall, exercise, time savings and convenience/flexibility were the most commonly stated benefits of bike share. BBSP target users reported saving the most, with a quarter of respondents in that group reporting saving $21 or more per week, and a majority saving more than $6 per week. Most of those receiving discounts were realizing savings that exceeded the discount amount, an encouraging sign for the value of the program and for retaining those members even if discounts end.
The top barrier to using bike share more in the user survey was that of distances being too far to bike, at rates similar to the resident survey. For current users, regardless of user group, more stations, bikes and docks were viewed as the things that would make them most likely to use bike share more, and a lack thereof acting as a barrier to use. Better quality bike infrastructure / routes were noted as both things that would make them ride more and (a lack of them) as key barriers. A majority of the BBSP target users, more so than the other groups, indicated that having longer time limits on bike share rides would encourage them to use it more. This may be linked to both using bike share for exercise and concerns about having to pay for longer trips. The target users were also more likely to increase their use if the fees for longer trips were lower. These findings indicate that changes to pricing structures may encourage more use among lower-income people and people of color.
McNeil, Nathan, Jennifer Dill, John MacArthur, Joseph Broach. Breaking Barriers to Bike Share: Insights from Bike Share Users. NITC-RR-884c. Portland, OR: Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), 2017.