National Scan of Bike Share Equity Programs

John MacArthur, Portland State University



As bike share systems around the United States have grown in number and size in recent years, there has been an increasing effort to ensure that those systems are accessible to all residents, particularly those who have the fewest resources or have been underserved in the past. The mobility landscape in 2019 is rapidly changing, with scooter and e-bike systems along with ride-hailing and ride-sharing companies contributing to a new and uncharted urban transportation scene. Meanwhile, bike share is still relatively new and changing quickly. In order to compete and excel in this changing landscape, particularly with regard to providing equitable service, bike share systems need to be able to better understand and document the outcomes of their programs so that they can articulate and replicate successes, identify and adapt when programs aren’t working, and continue to innovate as they seek to better serve cities. 

Many of the industry standards in bike share have been established by trial and error, and by learning from the experiences of peer cities. This report seeks to provide a resource to help cities navigate the range of actions that have been implemented to make bike share systems more equitable, examine successful strategies employed by other cities and systems, and understand how those systems are measuring and articulating their successes (and challenges). In doing so, we hope the report helps bike share systems learn from the experiences of others, innovate, and more quickly move toward greater equity.

The Better Bike Share Partnership has awarded 15 challenge grants to support cities in varying efforts to improve the equity of bike share. There has been a particular focus on increasing participation among lower-income groups. Similar programs in a number of other cities have aimed at engaging lower-income communities in bike share have also been implemented. The efforts have ranged from outreach conducted by the city and/or bike share operator, to innovative payment schemes, discounted pricing, education programs, marketing, community-based programming, and more. Both the focus on addressing equity in bike share and many of the programs and strategies deployed to do so are relatively new. As such, few resources discuss the menu of options, strategies and approaches, or the means of defining and measuring success for each of these efforts.

The project team surveyed bike share programs around the country about what their approach was, what metrics for success they used (or would use in the future), how they rate their success, and how valuable the investment was (and if they would do it again that way), among other questions. The project aimed to mine the collective experience and wisdom of BBSP grant recipients and other systems with equity programs for lessons learned (positive and negative), along with their recommendations and plans. The final deliverable will be a catalog of equity approaches employed by cities, as well as an aggregated summary of key elements of each approach or strategy. Findings include for various outreach techniques, payment and pricing plans, station siting, and marketing.

This technology transfer project will take key findings from the assessment and create outreach material to inform bikeshare system operators of best practices and lessons learned related to integrating equity.  Findings from the assessment will be supplemented with examples of programs, measures and planned improvements from members of a technical advisory committee (TAC). We are envisioning ten 2-page briefs on program elements being developed. Since data collection and measurement of outcomes is an area that we have observed to be needed (both through survey responses and through interviews with bike share operators and cities), strategies and suggested protocols for measuring each of the program elements will be developed, in consultation with the TAC, and included in the briefs.

Potential proposed program elements are data collection, metrics, equity policies, membership programs (discounts, cash-pay, etc.), outreach methods, workforce development, transit integration, partnering (e.g. with community-based organizations), adaptive bicycle programs, emerging devices (e-scooters and e-bikes), station siting, ambassador program, targeting specific groups (seniors, women, youth, non-english language, etc).

Photo credit: Ian Sane (

Project Details

Project Type:
Technology Transfer
Project Status:
End Date:
December 31,2020
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Tech Transfer
UTC Funding: