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Equitable Bike Infrastructure and Access

Thoughtful bike infrastructure and promoting the use of bikes can expand access to numerous vital services, improving lives in many ways. When not executed properly, however, bike infrastructure can exasperate disparities and leave marginalized communities further behind. 


Biking is a smart transportation option for city dwellers. It is efficient (often more so than other transit options), relatively inexpensive, reduces traffic congestion, reduces air pollution, and it touts a slew of health benefits. With half of all urban trips being less than 2 miles, and a third of all rural trips being less than 2 miles it’s a genuinely realistic option for getting from Point A to Point B for many city residents.


Many see biking as an intriguing transportation option but have concerns about safety for those riding. It is clear these concerns highlight particular safety inequities for cyclists of color, who face disproportionately higher fatality rates than white bicyclists. These disparities are coupled with the principle that transportation should increase and improve physical mobility for all people, so they can take advantage of economic and social opportunities. Centering equity in bike infrastructure planning is thus crucial to eliminating disparities and making cities better places to live. 

The All Ages and Abilities Design Toolbox, National Association of City Transportation Officials, January 26th, 2018. Read more.

Choosing an All Ages & Abilities Bicycle Facility, National Association of City Transportation Officials, January 26th, 2018. Read more.

What Will It Take To Close the Gender Gap In Urban Cycling?, Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company, November 27th, 2017. Read more.

16 Small Cities Team Up on Bike-Share, Rachel Dovey, Next City, October 19th, 2017. Read more.

Bicycle Equity Statement of Principle, The Slow Roll Chicago, October 13th, 2017. Read more.

Biking in Los Angeles: A Q&A with the former head of the LACBC, Bianca Barragan, Curbed Los Angeles, August 2nd, 2017. Read more.

Equitable Bike Share Means Building Better Places for People to Ride, National Association of City Transportation Officials, July 1st, 2016. Read more.

Has Philadelphia Made a Bike Share That Can Get the Entire City Biking?”, Anita Hamilton, Fast Company, March 30th, 2015. Read more.

Building Equity, Michael Andersen and Mary Lauran Hall, PeopleForBikes and Alliance for Biking and Walking, March 4th, 2015. Read more.

At the Intersection of Active Transportation and Equity, Sara Zimmerman et al., Safe Routes to School National Partnership, January 1st, 2015. Read more.

The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity, The League of American Bicyclists and The Sierra Club, May 29th, 2013. Read more.

Many cities are forming bicycle committees as way to tackle bicycle-specific issues. The Bicycle Advisory Committee in Minneapolis, MN passed a resolution to prioritize equity in its work.


City data can offer a wealth of information about who is underserved in a community, and who would benefit most from more resources. Charlotte, NC conducted a survey on bike participation that offers guidance for achieving bike equity in the city.


Pittsburgh, PA became the first U.S. city to offer free bike share to its transit riders. Anyone with a transit pass can access bike shire free of cost, which eliminates cost as a potential barrier for many to bike.


Keene, NH’s mayor oversaw major improvements to its bike trail network, prioritizing expanding the network to lower income neighborhoods to expand access to vital services such as hospitals and schools. Keene is also the first U.S. city with a Bicycle Mayor, whose mission – among other things–is to educate the public on bike safety.


Mariah Young-Jones
(608) 263-4744

For more ideas on how you can build equitable bike infrastructure in your city, check out presentations here and other resources here from the Winter 2018 Policy Meeting.