Industry News 1/22/2015

B$Z: PeopleForBikes Joins Better Bike Share Partnership to Promote National Bike Share Equity

The PeopleForBikes Foundation has joined forces with the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) in a targeted effort to improve equity among bike share programs nationwide. The Better Bike Share Partnership is a grant-funded collaboration whose mission is to increase access to and use of bike share in underserved communities.

“The benefits of a bike share program are numerous,” said Martha Roskowski, PeopleForBikes Vice President of Local Innovation. “It can inexpensively bridge the “last mile gap” between a commuter’s public transit and their final destination. It provides visitors an exciting new way to explore a city. It gets people who might not otherwise ride onto bicycles. It encourages physical activity. It is environmentally friendly. Now our work is make sure the benefits of bike share are available to everyone in the city.”

Report after report has shown that the demographics of users of existing U.S. bike share programs do not reflect the cities overall. Members are disproportionately Caucasian and affluent.

“In the past 10 years bike share has gone from a kooky idea to a new reality to an essential part of the transportation network in many cities,” says Kate Fillin-Yeh, the bike share program director at NACTO. “As cities look to balance their transportation priorities and budgets, there has been an increasing demand for information on how to get the most out of bike share systems and how to make bike share benefit the most people.”

The City of Philadelphia has not yet joined the bike share boom of the past five years. It plans to this spring; with what officials hope will be the country’s most socially equitable bike share system.

More than half of all Philadelphians below the poverty line live in the service area city officials have mapped out for bike share. It is these residents who could most benefit from a new affordable transportation option that connects them to jobs, healthcare, amenities and services.

“We have an obligation to create a system that works for the city and especially one that equally benefits those citizens living below the poverty line,” says Andrew Stober, the chief of staff in the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities. “We are going to be a living laboratory for figuring out how to do things better.”

The Philadelphia bike share system is scheduled to launch in April 2015. The grant will fund 20 stations in underserved communities there. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is working in those communities to engage its residents, with a special focus on getting youth and their families involved in promoting bike share.

The City of Brotherly Love isn’t the only place where PeopleForBikes and its partners will make efforts to expand to underserved communities. The Better Bike Share Partnership is equally focused on supporting, documenting and analyzing the similar efforts across the country.

NACTO will be collecting and disseminating best practices on bike share, including equity strategies. PeopleForBikes’ role is to administer $900,000 in grant funding over three years to bike share operators, cities and local nonprofits across the country to develop and implement strategies that increase bike share in their own underserved communities. Academic research will also be funded by the partnership.

PeopleForBikes is also managing a storytelling effort to better communicate the approaches, achievements and challenges of creating equitable and replicable bike share systems in real time at