Posted on March 4, 2019
How scooters, dockless bikes can help with transportation equity in NYC
— Curbed NY (@CurbedNY) March 1, 2019
For as robust and extensive as New York City’s transportation network is, the city still has many areas that are considered transit deserts. A recent report by the Regional Plan Association found that roughly a third of New York residents do not have a subway stop within walking distance of their homes and the problem is especially acute in dense areas that are lower-income—places like Canarsie, in Brooklyn, and many parts of central and northeast Queens. City buses serve many of New York’s transit deserts, but service has suffered from both falling ridership and agonizingly slow speeds.
Lime, the dockless bike and scooter company, recently commissioned its own study on transit deserts, and its findings echo those in the RPA report. The study points to inequality in access to other modes of transit in New York City. Citi Bike service, for example, is concentrated in areas that aren’t lacking for other transportation options; those areas are also, by and large, higher-income and populated by white New Yorkers. Studies have shown that commuting times have a huge impact on upward mobility—and New York’s transit deserts “drastically and disproportionately affect low-income populations and communities of color, resulting in significant barriers to upward mobility.”
So far, officials have taken baby steps toward bringing dockless transportation to city streets. “We need a solution to fix our transportation equity problem now—and dock-free vehicles are ready to roll,” said Jonathan Westin, the executive director of New York Communities for Change. “It is unacceptable that those who are struggling the most in our city—low-income communities of color—are those with the least-affordable, least-reliable transportation options. New York City must allow dock-free bikes and scooters to help fix our transportation equity crisis.”