How fair is the allocation of bike-sharing infrastructure? Framework for a qualitative and quantitative spatial fairness assessment

David Duran-Rodas*, Dominic Villeneuve, Francisco Camara Pereira, Gebhard Wulfhorst

*Corresponding author for this work

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How fair is the allocation of the infrastructure of a bike-sharing system (BSS)? Design guidelines for BSSs focus on optimizing the demand but not on who is served who is not. Areas where mainly young Caucasians, highly educated people live, and that have high access to community resources, presented greater access to BSS. Based on the concept of spatial fairness and its subjectivity, we developed a framework for a qualitative and quantitative assessment to help decision-makers and the general public evaluate the allocation of BSS infrastructure. First, from the general concept of justice, we developed our definition of spatial fairness assessment based on the rules of spatial equity, equality, and efficiency. Then, we developed a qualitative and quantitative spatial fairness assessment of BSS. The qualitative assessment aims to understand how underprivileged people perceive the spatial fairness of BSSs taking as case study non-motorized households in Strasbourg feeling socially excluded. The quantitative assessment helps to numerically determine which distribution rule (equity, equality, efficiency) the infrastructure of a BSS follows. This assessment was applied in residential blocks inside the service area of the hybrid BSS in Munich, Germany. We developed a concept of availability as an accessibility indicator. As social indicators, we considered social milieus, access to other opportunities (e.g. health, education), and developed a deprivation index that is a combination of those two. As a result of the qualitative assessment, non-motorized individuals who felt socially excluded were less likely to talk about BSS at all. Furthermore, bicycles’ availability in the bike-sharing system in Munich matched the efficiency and equity rule, although lower availability of bikes correlates to residential blocks where traditional-oriented social groups live. Policy makers, stakeholders, urban and transport planners, and the general public have now available 1) the perception of a group of the underprivileged population about BSS, and 2) a quantitative methodology to identify which distribution rule(s) the infrastructure of a BSS follows and which social groups are spatially advantaged or disadvantaged by it. Further research may be oriented to apply the approach in the same city or applying them to more case studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Pages (from-to)299-319
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bike-sharing
  • Spatial fairness
  • Equity
  • Justice
  • Accessibility


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