It has long been known that the users of bike share systems skew richer and whiter. In CityLab, Eric Jaffe showed a pile of scary graphs that showed how in cities across North America, household income was considerably higher among bike share members than among the general population. This is a shame, because people with lower incomes need affordable transportation options.
It’s a problem that NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials has been trying to address. Clarence Eckerson Jr. has made his usual wonderful video about their work; He writes:
This Streetfilm features footage of nearly a dozen bike-share systems, but primarily Indego in Philadelphia, Citi Bike in New York, and Capital Bikeshare in DC. As part of the filming, I got to ride along with Black Girls Do Bike NYC for a Citi Bike tour from Bed-Stuy to Red Hook in Brooklyn.
NACTO has put out three “Practitioner’s papers”, which “ highlight best practices for cities aiming to address equity issues while introducing or expanding their bike share systems.” These include:
Walkable Station Spacing Is Key to Successful, Equitable Bike Share
Can Monthly Passes Improve Bike Share Equity?
High-Quality Bike Facilities Increase Ridership and Make Biking Safer
They are all big deals. Bike share stations need to be relatively close together or many people have to walk too far to get a bike; it has to be affordable and easy to buy a pass with cash. But most importantly, there has to be infrastructure where it is safe to ride. That is the big and expensive nut to crack.