Bikeshare's Income Disparity Problem
Eric Jaffe delves into the findings of a report by the Mineta Transportation Institute regarding the growth of bikeshare systems in the United States. The report, "Public Bikesharing in North America During a Period of Rapid Expansion: Understanding Business Models, Industry Trends and User Impacts [pdf]," includes data revealing the systemic challenge of delivering bikeshare to low income populations.
After showing some of the income disparities found in systems like those in the Twin Cities, Salt lake City, Toronto, and Mexico City, Jaffe shares a point made in the report: "Many systems don't make much of an effort to place bike-share stations in low-income neighborhoods. Only nine of 21 selected systems interviewed by the report authors said equity factored into station location. The business end of bike-share potentially plays a major role here: Tourist locations tend to generate the most membership and the most revenue..."
Jaffe notes that a new system expected to launch next spring in Philadelphia will deliberately target low income neighborhoods for stations, providing a model of equity-based planning for bikeshare systems around the country (and world).