The Bikeshare Systems Offering Free Rides on Election Day, November 3, 2020

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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.

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