Breaking Barriers to Bike Share: Insights from Residents of Traditionally Underserved Neighborhoods
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Breaking Barriers to Bike Share: Insights from Residents of Traditionally Underserved Neighborhoods

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    Evidence has shown that higher income and white populations are overrepresented in both access to and use of bike share. Efforts to overcome underserved communities’ barriers to access and use of bike share have been initiated in a number of cities, including those working with the Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP) to launch and test potentially replicable approaches to improve the equity outcomes. This report describes findings from a survey of residents living near bike share stations placed in underserved communities of select BBSP cities: Philadelphia, Chicago, and Brooklyn. These were neighborhoods targeted for focused outreach related to BBSP programs, and were majority-minority (79- 94% people of color) and lower-income (36-61% of households under 150% of the poverty level). Residents were also surveyed in control areas that did not receive BBSP targeted outreach in two of the cities. The research team mailed surveys to 6,000 residents in each city, and received 1,885 responses. Respondents closely matched area demographics on race/ethnicity and income in most study locations, but were somewhat more likely to be women, older and more highly educated. Findings are drawn primarily from an analysis of data from adults in the BBSP outreach areas under 65 years old and physically able to ride a bicycle. Of those respondents who provided race and income information (n=779), 42% were lower-income (defined as 300% of poverty or below) people of color, 27% were higher-income (above 300% of poverty) people of color, 6% were lower-income and white (not Hispanic), and 25% were higher-income and white. Race and income often influenced responses to bicycling and bike share in different ways. Differences in behavior and opinions sometimes correlated with income, sometimes with race, and sometimes with race and income combined. Both people of color and lower-income residents cited more barriers to bicycling generally and to using bike share than did higher-income white residents. The biggest barrier to bicycling generally is concern about traffic safety, regardless of race or income (cited as a big barrier by 48% of residents). For some, personal safety is also a concern. For example, 22% of lower-income people of color stated that a big barrier to riding was that doing so could cause them to be harassed or a victim of crime. Some of the most common barriers to bicycling cited by lower-income people of color were issues that bike share could address, such as: not having a bike or related gear (47%); not having a safe place to leave a bike where they need to go (36%); the expense of buying a bike or related gear (41%); and not having a safe place to store a bike at home (32%). High costs of membership and concerns about liability for the bicycle were big barriers to using bike share for about half of lower-income respondents (48% and 52% respectively), compared to 33% and 31% of higher-income respondents of color and only 18% and 10% of higherincome white respondents. Another set of barriers relates to knowledge, lack of knowledge or incorrect knowledge. Only 31% of all respondents knew the details about the availability of the reduced-price membership or pass option, and 34% of lower-income respondents of color said that not knowing enough about how to use bike share was a big barrier to using it, compared to 19% of higher-income respondents of color and 7% of higher-income white residents. Among potential program changes, lower-income people of color were significantly more likely than other respondents to indicate that certain changes would make them more likely to use bike share, including: several changes that could help with cost and liability concerns such as discounted membership or use options (80% stating somewhat or much more likely to use bike share with this change), access to free or low-cost helmets/gear (72%), and easier ways to pay with cash (67%); and several changes to help overcome knowledge or experience gaps, such as help finding safe ways to get where I need to go (70%), and organized rides for people like me (71%). Respondents generally have positive attitudes about bicycling and bike share. A large majority of all residents (73%) and lower-income people of color (74%) agreed that the city’s bike share system “is useful for people like me.” In terms of reasons for using bike share, getting exercise was cited by 71% of the lower-income respondents of color as a reason they would consider using bike share, a rate much higher than other respondent groups. Being able to ride with friends and family was cited by 48% of lower-income respondents of color, again higher than other groups.
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