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Encouraging Equitable Access to Public Bikesharing Systems
In recent years, bikesharing systems have spread throughout North America. There are a number of theorized benefits to use of bikesharing, such as mode shift from automotive travel, and lowering household travel expenses. While there has been rapid growth in systems, and apparent success in attracting riders, there is concern that bikesharing may not be reaching residents of low-income communities, or members of socioeconomic groups disproportionately underrepresented in bicycling. To help bridge this gap, this paper investigates how bikesharing systems are pursuing programs to lower access barriers for these groups.
This paper provides an overview of the results of a survey of 20 current and planned North American bikesharing systems. The purpose of this survey was to collect basic information about the systems, and the current status and details about programs that attempt to lower access barriers to bikesharing experienced by low-income communities, and minority groups underrepresented in bicycling. Responses are summarized by category, with certain notable examples of bikesharing system programs highlighted. All categories of programs to lower access barriers described in this paper have multiple bikesharing systems pursuing them. Additionally, an analysis of characteristics of sampled bikesharing systems finds only one significant negative correlation (nonprofit agency status) with the average number of programs bikesharing systems pursue to reduce access barriers.
A number of research proposals are offered to provide more detailed study of the extent of access barriers to bikesharing systems, more details on individual bikesharing system experiences with programs to lower access barriers, and a need to repeat an overview of the state of the practice after several large North American bikesharing systems deploy.