The City of Baltimore and University Researchers Conducted an Analysis of Bike Equity and Safety Using Census Data to Assess the Potential Impacts of Expanding Baltimore’s Bike Share Program.
Bike share systems are increasingly integrated into urban environments, appealing to both residents and visitors as a form of active transportation. Despite their popularity, there are concerns that these systems may not serve a diverse range of demographics equally, with some groups experiencing limited access and facing barriers to usage.
This study evaluated Baltimore’s Bike Share system, which was launched in 2016, from an equity and safety perspective using 2010-2015 census data for demographic, socioeconomic, housing, and travel characteristics for the study area. A Bike Equity Index (BEI) was used to compare Baltimore's existing bicycle infrastructure, consisting of 39 stations, with a proposed expansion that included 20 additional stations.
In this study, a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based equity gap analysis was used to develop a population-density-normalized BEI to quantify the spatial distribution and service coverage of Baltimore’s bicycle infrastructure supply, operating with 39 stations under existing conditions with 20 more stations expected to open during the proposed expansion phase. In addition, to measure safety as the percentage of bikeable roads within census blocks, with infrastructure categorized based on a Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) rating, methodology originally developed by the Mineta Transportation Institute was adopted. Accordingly, each road segment was categorized into one of four levels, ranging from LTS 1 (lowest stress) to LTS 4 (highest stress) based on lanes, speed limit, parking availability, presence of a centerline, intersections, and the type and width of bicycle lanes where applicable.
- The study predicted a 36.1 percent increase in BEI (increased from 1.44 to 1.96) for a proposed increase in bike share coverage from 39 to 59 stations.
- The study also predicted a 13 percent reduction in LTS (decrease from 0.54 to 0.47) corresponding to the coverage expansion from 39 to 59 stations.