Study: Dockless Mobility More Popular with People of Color in D.C.

Photo:  Nathan Rupert/Flickr/CC
Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr/CC

Dockless bike share is doing a better job reaching people of color than traditional city-sponsored bike-sharing systems, according to a new analysis that confirms what many observers have long suspected.

Black residents in D.C. are far more likely to have tried dockless bike share or e-scooters from firms such as Spin, Lime, Bird and Jump than the public bike system, Capital Bikeshare, according to an analysis from the research firm Populus.

Graph: Populus
Graph: <ahref=”https://medium.com/populus-ai/measuring-equity-dockless-27c40af259f8″> Populus

In fact, white and black residents were more likely to have used dockless bikes and scooters than Capital Bikeshare. But for black residents — 47 percent of the population in D.C. — the effect was much larger.

Black residents were 2.6 times more likely to have tried dockless bike share or scooters, compared to white people, who were about 1.2 times more likely. The Populus study did not investigate the reasons for the disparity, but docked bike share stations have traditionally been concentrated in wealthier whiter neighborhoods.

“These services appear to be delivering new options to communities that have been traditionally underserved,” Populus CEO Regina Clewlow wrote on Medium.

Capital Bikeshare still carries many more total trips than the dockless companies. But the disproportionate use of bike share by white people and higher-income groups has been a source of concern for the industry.

  • Specifically in DC, Anacostia is predominately black and also much hillier than the rest of the city. E-bikes are the real solution to improving access in that neighborhood.

  • Stefanie

    It seems that Black residents are not more likely to have tried dockless bike/scooter share than White residents. They have tried dockless options more than Capital Bikeshare and done that at a higher rate than White residents. White residents are still more likely to have tried dockless mobility options than Black residents (25% versus 16%). This should be clarified.

  • AnoNYC

    In DC there is a much lower density of Capital Bikeshare stations in the SE section of the city (the most predominantly black neighborhoods). Also, a lack of connectivity with PG county in MD.

    People use what’s close.

  • SteveVaccaro

    Curious as to how they know the racial identity of users of these systems. Tried to download the actual report from Populus website, and couldn’t. Also, what does it mean that this post is tagged “”Promoted”? Who is.promoting it?

  • Calvin Brown

    My guess is the dockless companies conducted surveys and included questions about race.

  • EcoAdvocate

    What are we going to do about all these dockless cars, all around the city scattered about, often parked illegally?

  • Andy

    With Angie Schmitt, everything is about race. How pathetic.

  • Leslie Wilson

    I don’t think this is driven by preference of scooter over bicycle. I think this is a result of motor-driven vs non-motor driven. There are only a few e-bikes in D.C. (from the operator: JUMP). If all of those bikeshare bicycles were e-bikes, bicycles would likely be far more popular than the scooters – for people of color, and every demographic.

  • Stefanie

    The findings are from a survey conducted by Populus. It is reportedly from a representative sampling of DC population to discover adoption rates. I assume in the survey they asked respondents to identify their race/ethnicity.

  • 1 Less Car

    So, is this a person of color in the photo or just an eye catching photo? Asking for a friend…

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