An exploratory Virginia Tech study suggests that riders using Washington D.C.’s dockless bikeshare systems may be more ethnically diverse and that a larger share of dockless bike trips are taken in areas that are historically majority-minority compared to the share of trips by the traditional Capital Bikeshare system.

As commuters across the region participate in “National Bike to Work Week” this week, the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) continues to consider new sustainable transportation options for the District.

To better understand transportation equity of the District’s current bike-sharing networks, the DDOT turned to Ralph Buehler, associate professor of urban affairs and planning in the Virginia Tech National Capital Region, and a team of graduate students to compare the rider demographics and geographic accessibility of both the dockless bikeshare and Capital Bikeshare systems.

“As city planners consider new transportation options, dockless bike systems have the potential to reduce traffic congestion in urban areas and make it more convenient for people to ride bikes, increase physical activity, and improve public health,” says Buehler.

Research Findings

Racial/ethnic origin, gender, and other demographic data were looked at to evaluate differences between rider groups. Initial results of this pilot study suggest that dockless bike riders may be more racially diverse, have lower household income, and attract a higher proportion of women riders when compared to members of the Capital Bikeshare system.

Data also shows that dockless bike ridership is much higher in the afternoon than in the morning and that proportionally dockless bikeshare trips are more geographically dispersed than Capital Bikeshare trips. To read the full report, visit: here.

“This study is the first look at new transportation options in U.S. cities. Findings of this preliminary study offer an initial look at who is using it, where they are using it, and how it works. That will allow us to develop future studies and to assess effective transportation options in cities. Without research like this, we would not have an understanding of who the riders are and where the system goes,” says Buehler.

To secure an interview with Buehler, please contact Shannon Andrea in the media relations office at or 571-858-3262.

Share this story