The Bikeshare Systems Offering Free Rides on Election Day, November 3, 2020
by Claire Marie Porter
Bike sharing companies around the country are joining with the nonprofit North American Bikeshare Association in “Roll to the Polls,” a nationwide initiative to get voters to their polling place on Election Day.
Three percent of Americans cited “transportation problems” as a barrier to voting in the 2016 election, according to the Pew Research Center. That 3 percent equates roughly to 4.6 million registered voters in 2020, which is projected to have the largest voter turnout in history.
Data has shown bike share systems to have a number of barriers to adoption for low-income people and people of color, from the location of stations to a lack of safe cycling infrastructure. In recent years, there’s been an effort to make bike sharing more equitable and accessible, such as the Better Bike Share Partnership in Philadelphia. Lyft-owned Citi Bike, the nation’s largest bikeshare system — which is also offering promo codes for free bike share rides to and from the polls — has reported a promising increase in ridership in low-income neighborhoods since 2014.
In Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood for example, a community development organization called Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation committed to a three-year challenge of changing the culture around Bike-Share programs, which were previously viewed as an indicator of gentrification.