Bay Area Advocates Push for More Equitable Bike Share System


Edie Irons, Communications Director: 510-740-9310 (cell), [email protected]

(Oakland, CA) - As bike share officially launches in the Bay Area next week, the system has a number of features to make it more accessible to low-income communities. Those features are the result of intense advocacy from transportation advocates and cities, and there is still work to do to ensure bike share serves the needs of low-income communities of color.

A 2015 study showed that San Francisco’s pilot bike share system membership was disproportionately male, highly-educated, white, and affluent. In an effort to buck that trend when bike share launches in the East Bay in July, TransForm, Bike East Bay, and the City of Oakland have been working together for nearly two years to gather input and push for policies and features that will help underserved communities take full advantage of the new service. Similar efforts are afoot in San Francisco and San Jose.

“We’ve done a lot of groundwork prior to the launch to make sure there are as few barriers to participation as possible for low-income communities on day one,” said Cynthia Armour, advocacy manager for Bike East Bay. “After the East Bay launch in July, we’ll be doing even more outreach to help people sign up and use the system.”

Motivate, the company operating the Bay Area’s bike share system, has already made changes in response to community concerns. These include offering cash payment at the Oakland Public Library and BART bike stations, extending the ride time on discounted memberships to one hour; adding CalFresh as a qualifier for discounted memberships, and creating a pilot program in partnership with Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) to increase access for users with disabilities.

The challenge now is to make sure bike share is available where it’s needed most. Currently there are no bike share stations planned East of High Street in Oakland, and the stations are sparse in West Oakland and Fruitvale. Similar gaps exist in expansion plans for other Bay Area cities.

“We have heard from residents who live in areas where no stations are planned that they are excited to use bike share,” said Carlos Hernandez, bike share coordinator for the City of Oakland. “People who live outside the service area will still use bike share to move through the city, run errands, visit family, access health care, and connect to transit.”

“It’s great to see the shared commitment to a more equitable bike share system among advocates, cities, and Motivate,” said Brytanee Brown, community planner with TransForm, which is coordinating bike share expansion throughout the Bay Area. “But we still have a long way to go to make it truly accessible for many communities of color — geographic distribution of stations is a major concern.”