Factors Influencing Bike Share Among Underserved Populations: Evidence From Three U.S. Cities

Chciago Divvy Station Bronzeville.jpg
A Divvy bike share station in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Researchers Jennifer Dill, Jiahui Ma, Nathan McNeil, Joseph Broach and John MacArthur of Portland State University have published a new article in the November 2022 issue of Transportation Part D: Transport and Environment. The open-access article, "Factors influencing bike share among underserved populations: Evidence from three U.S. cities," examines bike share use and interest among lower-income residents and people of color in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

There is evidence that lower-income and people of color (POC) in the U.S. do not use bike share as much as higher-income and white people. Using data from residents living near bike share stations in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the paper examines reasons for these disparities. Researchers looked at many factors that might explain bike share use and interest in lower-income, racially diverse, traditionally underserved neighborhoods. They focused on residents who live near bike share stations, so that proximity would not be a barrier.

A few key findings:

  1. People who are not members, but are interested in using bike share, including POC, are motivated to use bike share for fun, recreation, and social reasons (as opposed to utility).
  2. Knowledge of bike share and receiving information from interactive sources (for example, bike share ambassadors) are associated with bike share use.
  3. Cost is a barrier for people who are interested in using bike share, but are not members. Discounted memberships are one solution, but survey results indicate that many people do know know about them.

Some reasons for not using bike share among people of color and lower-income people may also be related to reasons for not bicycling, generally. These include concerns about traffic safety as well as personal safety.

Some of the barriers to bike share reported by low-income respondents of color in a 2017 survey

This paper is an analysis of data collected in a "Breaking Barriers to Bike Share" project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and the Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP). Read more about the original study and explore some of the products to come out of this research, including a set of ten bike share equity briefs to help operators establish equity programs based on what's been shown to work.

Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) is home to the U.S. DOT funded National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), PORTAL, BikePed Portal and other transportation grants and programs. We produce impactful research and tools for transportation decision makers, expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engage students and professionals through education and participation in research.

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