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

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: Populus
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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.

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