Encouraging Equitable Bikeshare: Implications of Docked and Dockless Models for Spatial Equity

Presented by:
Simon Couch (Reed College)

The last decade has seen a rapid rise in the number of bikeshare programs, where bikes are made available throughout a community on an as-needed basis. Given that many of these programs are at least partially publicly funded, a central concern of operators and investors is whether these systems operate equitably. Though spatial equity has been well-studied under the docked model, where bikes are picked up and dropped off at prespecified docking stations, there has been little work examining that of the increasingly popular dockless model, where bikes can be picked up and dropped off from anywhere within an operating area. We explore comparative equity in spatial access to bikeshare services under these two models by collecting spatial data on 45,935 bikes from 73 bikeshare systems using a novel querying approach (with generalizable and freely available source code), and joining this data with newly-available sociodemographic data at the census tract level. Using Poisson count regression, we perform the first comparative analysis of the two docking approaches, finding that dockless systems operate more equitably than docked systems by education, but do not differ in spatial access by socioeconomic class.