Publication Detail

Dock-based and Dockless Bikesharing Systems: Analysis of Equitable Access for Disadvantaged Communities


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation, BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative

Suggested Citation:
Jaller, Miguel, Debbie A. Niemeier, Xiaodong Qian, Miao Hu (2021)

Dock-based and Dockless Bikesharing Systems: Analysis of Equitable Access for Disadvantaged Communities

. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-21-77

Dockless bikeshare systems show potential for replacing traditional dock-based systems, primarily by offering greater flexibility for bike returns. However, many cities in the US currently regulate the maximum number of bikes a dockless system can deploy due to bicycle management issues. Despite inventory management challenges, dockless systems offer two main advantages over dock-based systems: a lower (sometimes zero) membership fee, and being free-range (or, at least free-range within designated service areas). Moreover, these two advantages may help to solve existing access barriers for disadvantaged populations. To date, much of the research on micro-mobility options has focused on addressing equity issues in dock-based systems. There is limited knowledge of whether, and the extent to which dockless systems might help mitigate barriers to bikeshare for disadvantaged populations. Using San Francisco and Los Angeles as case studies, because both cities have both dock-based and dockless systems running concurrently, the research team quantified bikeshare service levels for communities of concern (CoCs) by analyzing the spatial distribution of service areas, available bikes and bike idle times, trip data, and rebalancing among the dock-based and dockless systems. They found that dockless systems can provide greater availability of bikes for CoCs than for other communities, attracting more trip demand in these communities because of a larger service area and frequent bike rebalancing practices. More importantly, they noticed that the existence of electric bikes helps mitigate the bikeshare usage gap between CoCs and other tracts. Besides the data analyses for bikeshare trips, the research team also studied the spatial distribution of online suggested station locations and find that the participants’ desired destinations for work/school purposes have not been covered to the same extent in CoCs as in other communities. The results provide policy insights to local municipalities on how to properly regulate and develop dockless bikeshare systems to improve mobility equity.

Key words: Bikesharing, equity, dockless, dockbased, planning