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Bike Share Programs Get Funding To Serve Low Income Communities


Low-income communities across California could start seeing bike-share programs as an option for transportation in their neighborhoods.

As part of a program called Car Sharing And Mobility Options, the California Air Resources Board — which focuses on reducing pollution, particularly through vehicles and transportation — has agreed to set aside part of their funding for bike share options in low-income areas.

“Instead of a separate bike pilot program, the CARB board decided to allow bike-share programs to apply for funding within the existing Mobility Options program. How much money ultimately goes to bike-share will depend on how many areas apply for funding.”

This is a huge step forward for clean transportation, since bicycles are the ultimate form of low-emissions transit. When major programs incorporate bicycles as an option for greater populations, the hope is that more people will take advantage of them as a means of regular transportation.

The more people who see cyclists as a valuable part of the transit ecosystem, and the more people who come to realize that cycling could be a realistic option for them, then the fewer unnecessary polluting vehicles we will have on the road.

Not only that, but taking bicycles seriously as a transportation option could also improve the infrastructure of cities as a whole. When cities create systems that encourage cycling, traffic flow improves and everyone gets where they are going more efficiently.

“‘The state has long neglected the role that bicycling can play in reducing greenhouse gases. This shows they’re starting to pay attention,’ said Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition.”

Another benefit of adding bike share to transportation programs like this one: it is a meaningful move into communities who often don’t benefit from bicycle sharing programs.

“Bike-share programs have been under pressure not to use public subsidies because they have not been seen as ‘essential’ transportation options like freeways or transit. Because they are largely self-funded, they are not always available to some of the people most likely to be able to make use of them, including low-income people in communities lacking other modes of access. Grants from this program create more opportunities for cities, agencies, and nonprofits working on bike-share to make it as accessible as possible,” reports Streetsblog.

Bicycles are a fantastic option for low-income communities because they are essentially free to operate. When people in these neighborhoods have the option of using a bike, rather than a car or public transit, they get health benefits, reduce pollution, and save on monthly transportation costs.

Of course, this is just a pilot program, so it remains to be seen if it will have long-term positive effects. However, officials involved are hopeful.

“‘This is a pilot program, which means it will have to prove itself,’ said Jeanie Ward-Waller, policy director for the California Bicycle Coalition. ‘If we can make it successful, it could be groundbreaking. It would be a good model for how to reach low-income communities nationwide with these programs.’”