Publication Detail

Providing Equitable Access to Sacramento's Bike Share System


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Goodman, Brianna and Susan L. Handy (2015) Providing Equitable Access to Sacramento's Bike Share System. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-15-10

Bike share systems are a unique opportunity to encourage active transportation within a public transportation framework. Bike share has the potential to deliver an array of benefits to communities, including reduced emissions, vehicle miles traveled, and parking needs, as well as increasing residents’ participation in healthful exercise.

However, the benefits of bike share are often not equitably distributed among the diverse populations of the cities in which they have been implemented: statistics indicate that a large majority of current North American bike share users in the United States are overwhelmingly white and middle- to upper-class. A study of four North American bike share systems (Minneapolis, Montreal, Denver, and Washington D.C.) presented aggregate statistics that indicate bike share users in these systems are white (79%), highly educated (85% holding a Bachelor’s Degree or higher) and middle-to-upper middle class (72% earn an annual income of $50,000 or above) (Shaheen 2012). These statistics are not representative of the demographics of these cities, suggesting the possibility of a lack of equitable system access for low-income and/or minority (LIM) populations in North America.

Barriers to equitable access to bike share must be met with thoughtful analysis and policy adjustments to ensure that, as this new opportunity for public active transportation spreads in the United States, all citizens have the opportunity to benefit. As the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) plans a bike share system for the region, slated for opening in 2016, planners have many opportunities to ensure equitable access to bike share for LIM communities of the region. This report responds to a study presented by Fehr & Peers in 2014 (F & P, 2013) that was the first iteration of planning for the new system. The Fehr & Peers study presented a potential scheme of 88 stations primarily in central Sacramento, with satellite stations in West Sacramento and Davis, composed of 1,320 docking points and 616 bicycles. The study draws on quantitative data and qualitative surveys from multiple existing U.S. bike share systems, notably Capital Bikeshare D.C., Denver B-Cycle, and Nice Ride MN. Taking the Fehr & Peers study as a starting point, this report aims to explore how system equity barriers could be removed so that all residents of Sacramento, regardless of ethnicity or income status, could enjoy the benefits of bike share.