Portland university to catalogue bike share equity programs

by Stefani Cox

This post is part of our 2018-19 grantee intro series. You can see the original post and links to all articles in the series here.

painted bike
Source: Brian Crawford via Flickr.

Cash payments. Ambassadors. Discounts. Outreach. Bike share community work has come a long way since the beginning, but how do we know what works best?

That’s where Portland State University comes in. Transportation researchers at PSU are trying to put together a cohesive picture of the various efforts in bike share equity. Under their Better Bike Share grant, they will define different strategies and explore several measures of success.

“The experience of grantee cities over the course of time has created a well of information,” said Nathan McNeil, a research associate with PSU’s Center for Transportation Studies and Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation. “We’re seeing some evidence of best practices making the rounds.”

Surveying the field

To help kickstart their research, McNeil and colleagues have designed a questionnaire for bike share systems, cities, and community groups. The survey will help the researchers better understand what’s currently happening among stakeholders. They hope to do follow up interviews based on the results of the questionnaire and to develop case studies that will document different approaches.

Researchers will be sorting through self-reported measurements of success. Along the way, they’ll search for metrics that could be useful to for other cities in measuring their own progress.

“There is enough out there in reports and other literature showing the different methods and programs for engaging communities around bike share,” said John MacArthur, also a research associate at PSU. “But how they are thinking about evaluating success, or what they think success is has not really been looked at or aggregated. We’re hoping this process starts highlighting and building ideas about good approaches.”

PSU is searching for contacts related to the questionnaire. Please see information at the bottom of the post for more information.

bike share front light
Source: Planetgordon via Flickr.

Bringing the findings together

The current plan is to turn the findings of the survey and related research into a full report. PSU is also investigating other opportunities to present the data in a database or web-friendly format.

The researchers will include both docked and dockless bike share systems in their analysis. They are also curious about the equity impacts in cities that have both docked and dockless options.

PSU researchers are clear to emphasize that they aren’t planning to rate equity programs against one another, acknowledging that cities often find success through multiple approaches at the same time. Additionally, they are aware that preferred strategies differ among cities of differing sizes and with different demographics.

If you are an operator of bike share or an affiliated city staff or community member, please contact Nathan McNeil at nmcneil@pdx.edu about the survey or for more information.

The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaborative between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter.