Background Cycling confers individual and population-level health benefits. Increasing numbers of cities are therefore introducing public bicycle sharing schemes, with London’s Barclays Cycle Hire (BCH) scheme introduced in July 2010. Yet uptake of cycling is not equitable across socio-demographic groups. We sought to examine the characteristics of the BCH scheme’s registered users, and to explore characteristics associated with usage.
Methods For users registering in the first seven months of the scheme, we obtained complete BCH registration and usage data, comprising: title (from which we inferred gender); home postcode; date of registration; access type; and number of trips made. We used postcodes to calculate distance to the nearest ‘docking station’ and to assign small-area-level data on ethnic composition, income deprivation, and the prevalence of commuter cycling. We compared characteristics of registered users with local residents and workers in the inner-London area served by the scheme. We used multi-level linear regression to examine correlates of ‘mean number of trips’, and logistic regression to examine correlates of ‘ever use’.
Results 100,801 registered individuals made 2.5 million trips between July 2010 and March 2011. Compared with local residents and workers, registered individuals were more likely to be male and to live in areas of low deprivation and high cycling prevalence. Among those registered, females made 1.63 (95%CI 1.74,1.53) fewer trips per month than males. In combination with the fact that fewer females registered in the first place, this meant that only 17.8% of the total number of BCH trips were made by females. Adjusting for the fact that deprived areas were less likely to be close to BCH docking stations, users in the most deprived areas made 0.85 (95%CI 0.63,1.07) more trips per month than those in the least deprived areas.
Conclusion Females and residents in deprived areas are underrepresented among users of London’s public bicycle sharing scheme. Indeed, the BCH scheme currently appears to be less gender-equal than cycling in general in London. Nevertheless, registered users in more deprived areas made more trips on average, suggesting there may be a greater latent demand for cycling in these areas. The scheme’s expansion into more deprived areas from Spring 2012 has, therefore, the potential to create a more socio-economically equitable uptake of cycling.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.