Are you all caught up with the Bike Share Battle? Great! Now we’ll talk about one of the main players, Ford GoBike through its bike share equity lens with a program called Bike Share for All.

A quick overview –  San Francisco Bay Area’s regional bike share network program, Ford GoBike is funded under a public-private partnership with Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Motivate, which operates bike share systems across several other major cities. With Bay Area expansion now halfway complete, Ford GoBike’s program will be the 2nd largest bike share system in North America when expansion wraps up later this year. A total of 7,000 bikes, 540 stations across 5 cities – San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, and San Jose are all included in the bike share expansion. Currently, San Jose has 38 stations on the ground with another 45 stations waiting to be deployed and/or in the permitting process. According to MTC, San Jose bike share stations are placed in a majority of Communities of Concern neighborhoods, a proxy used to target communities that serve low-income people of color.

Which brings us to discussing bike share equity in the Bay Area. A blog post from our Advocacy team highlights strong disparities when discussing who has access to bike share and that it does not genuinely represent the diverse communities in which we live. TransForm, a non-profit organization based out of Oakland, began discussions with MTC to develop a program that would allow bike coalitions (San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Bike East Bay) and community-based organizations (SF Yellow Bike Project, Chinese Newcomer Community Services Center, Scraper Bikes, Rich City Rides, and City of Berkeley) to lead organized outreach efforts to reach low-income communities that are often left out of the bike share conversation.

This led to the development of Bike Share for All, a program that offers a discounted first-year membership with Ford GoBike to ensure every individual would receive equal access to community resources like bike share. The discounted $5 annual membership is available to recipients of eligible assistance programs, including PG&E California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) and San Francisco Muni Lifeline and CalFresh/SNAP. The discounted rate increases to $5/month after the first year.

For community engagement and outreach, SVBC developed relationships with trusted partners in the community like First Community Housing (FCH) and San Jose State University (SJSU) to help enroll low-income residents and students in the program. The groundwork to enroll residents for the bike share membership and familiarize with the process of unlocking a bike was completed through:

  • Pop-up tabling events at affordable housing properties and SJSU
  • Bike safety workshops
  • Organized bike rides

The bike safety classes and rides coincided with our Pedal2Health program. In addition, a new partnership with San Jose State’s Educational Opportunity Program, which strives to retain and graduate first-generation, historically low-income, and educationally underserved college students by offering support services has proven beneficial in doubling our bike share membership enrollment numbers. Another important piece was finding local team ambassadors who supported and lead on-the-ground outreach in the community. A special thank you to SVBC ambassadors Nyan, Michael, Roomin, Sneha, and Manny for being champions of the program!

Although outreach for Bike Share for All is wrapping up, bike share access must continue serving everyone by making membership reflective of the communities that bike share serves. Data from MTC shows San Jose’s low-income memberships account for over 50% of all Ford GoBike memberships in the area. There is more work to be done — let’s keep moving forward!