Is Access to Public Bike-share Networks Equitable? A Multiyear Spatial Analysis Across 5 U.S. Cities

Alex Berke

Berke, A., Truitt, W., Larson, K. (2023). Is access to public bike-share networks equitable? A multiyear spatial analysis across 5 U.S. Cities. Journal of Transport Geography, Volume 114, 2024, 103759, ISSN 0966-6923.


Public bike-share networks offer a range of potential benefits to city residents. However, earlier works have indicated that privileged populations tend to have better access. This study evaluates equity in the spatial distribution of public bike-share networks throughout their years of service in 5 U.S. cities: Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia. This multiyear analysis allows evaluating how these bike-share networks have addressed equity issues as they expanded.

The contributions include quantitative analyses, supplemented by an interactive map. The quantitative analysis methods build on related research evaluating equity in bike-share and other public transit systems. The Lorenz curve and Gini index are used to evaluate spatial equity. Equity is also assessed across different income and race groups by comparing the extent to which these populations are included in bike-share service areas versus the total populations. Data from the census and bike-share networks, specific to each year, are used.  The results show that higher-income and White populations were consistently included in bike-share service areas at higher rates.  As networks expanded into lower-income and more racially diverse areas, some equity gaps narrowed, most notably in Chicago and New York City, where populations with access to bike-share were initially more than 20% more White than the overall populations. To close equity gaps, further expansions should be made to reach more lower-income and racially diverse populations.

The interactive map is a web-based tool that visualizes the yearly income, race, and bike-share data. This tool aids the understanding of the quantitative results and can be used by readers and practitioners to provide further insights.

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