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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Do Dock-based and Dockless Bikesharing Systems Provide Equitable Access for Disadvantaged Communities?

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Bikeshare is an increasingly prevalent transportation option that offers users access to a bicycle without owning it. Both dockbased (requiring users to return bicycles to a fixed station) and dockless (free-floating) services have grown significantly over the past decade. Previous research has found that a well-designed bikeshare system has great potential to improve accessibility for disadvantaged communities. However, systems currently underserve these communities. Moreover, there is a lack of research about the performance and impacts of dock-based versus dockless bikeshare systems in terms of providing equitable access to disadvantaged communities.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis analyzed the difference in service levels among dock-based and dockless systems in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. The researchers analyzed the spatial distribution of service areas, availability of bikes and bike idle times, trip statistics, rebalancing, and other metrics to understand how well or poorly these systems serve designated “communities of concern” (CoCs).  Finally, using crowdsourced suggestions from online platforms, the researchers conducted a comparative assessment of actual station locations with the users’ suggestions of potential station locations. These analyses can help planning agencies and local governments to better understand and manage these systems. This policy brief summarizes the findings from that research and provides policy implications.

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