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What Keeps Bike Share White

It’s not a lack of interest, but a lack of information.
Philadelphia's bike share program debuted in 2015, but stubborn racial and income disparities persist, says a new study.
Philadelphia's bike share program debuted in 2015, but stubborn racial and income disparities persist, says a new study.Matt Rourke/AP

It’s no secret that bike-share systems across the country have an equity problem. Bike share works best in high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods—the types of places that have seen rents skyrocket and the affluent move in. Even as systems have matured and expanded, the vast majority of users have remained wealthier and whiter than the cities these programs serve.

Some humbling numbers have emerged to drive the point home: In Washington, D.C., which has a population that is about 50 percent black, only 3 percent of Capital Bikeshare members were African American in 2012. By 2016, that share had grown by only one percentage point. The same survey found that Asians and Latinos were also severely underrepresented among Capital Bikeshare members.