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The number of public bike share systems has been increasing rapidly across the United States over the past five to ten years. To date most academic research around bike share in the U.S. has focused on the logistics of planning and operationalizing successful systems. Investigations of system users and impacts on the local community are less common, and studies focused on efforts to engage underserved communities in bike share are rarer still. This paper utilizes a survey of representatives from 55 U.S. bike share systems to better understand and document current approaches toward serving low income and minority populations. The survey asked about equity policies and metrics, the degree to which equity considerations affected a variety of system practices, what the existing barriers to utilizing bike share are for target populations, and what challenges the bike share system entity faces in addressing those barriers. Results indicate that one in five systems have written policies around equity, though larger systems (over 500 bikes) were twice as likely to have such policies. However, many more systems incorporated equity into various aspects of their systems. Bike share systems incorporated equity into station siting, fee structure and payment systems, and promotion and marketing at much higher rates (68%, 72%, and 57% respectively), and into system operations and data collection and analysis to a lesser extent (42% each). Even so, the largest barriers facing systems are still cost, access, and outreach to users as well as overall funding and staff levels at the organization level.
Steven Howland is a PhD candidate in Urban Studies at Portland State University. He specializes in economic development and urban poverty. His research interests revolve around disadvantaged populations and the inequalities in transportation, housing, employment, and emerging technologies.
Bicycle commuting, Transportation -- Social aspects
Social Policy | Transportation | Transportation Engineering
Howland, Steven, "Current Efforts to Make Bike Share More Equitable: A Survey of System Owners and Operators" (2017). PSU Transportation Seminars. 107.