Residents in Seattle, WA Report Differential Use of Free-Floating Bikeshare by Age, Gender, Race, and Location

Report by Jana A. Hirsch, Ian Stewart , Sianna Ziegler, Ben Richter, Stephen J. Mooney
March 6, 2019

Urban Health Collaborative   (Philadelphia)

Bikesharing may have numerous urban health, sustainability, and mobility benefits. Bikesharing systems that do not require stations (i.e., “dockless,” or “free-floating” bikeshare) launched in North America in 2017. While this novel model may enhance access to and use of bikeshare by diverse populations, to date no work has examined equity in free-floating bikeshare use. This brief report uses a web-based panel survey (n = 601) to provide sociodemographic characteristics of adult Seattle residents reporting bikeshare use during the first 6 months of a pilot free-floating program. One-third of Seattle adults surveyed reported trying free-floating bikeshare. These users were disproportionately young, male, White, resided closer to the city center, and already more likely to have or use a bicycle. Safety, social, spatial access, physical size, operation, technology, and cost barriers remained, particularly for males and non-White respondents. Almost half of non-users were open to trying free-floating bikeshare. However, these respondents hold limited potential to diversify the user population: while more likely to be female, like current riders, they were young and already using bicycles. If cities, researchers, and operators work together in the rapidly-shifting mobility landscape, they may be able to remove inequitably distributed barriers to transportation technology.

Publisher Info:

Frontiers in Built Environment, Volume 5, Article 17