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Washington, DC's Capital Bikeshare: Tax $$$ for Rich, Educated, White Riders

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Published on Jun 20, 2012

Capital Bikeshare, which rents bikes at more than 165 outdoor stations in the Washington D.C. area, serves highly educated and affluent whites.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course, except that the program has received $16 million in government subsidies, including over $1 million specifically earmarked to "address the unique transportation challenges faced by welfare recipients and low-income persons seeking to obtain and maintain employment."

The program is part of a recent explosion in taxpayer-subsidized bike rental services, which have also hit the streets of Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston , Denver, Boulder, Houston, Minneapolis, Broward, Madison, Omaha, San Antonio, and Des Moines.

Capital Bikeshare's latest user survey finds that 95 percent of its regular patrons have college degrees, 53 percent have a Masters or Ph.D., and 80 percent are white. Fully 0 percent have only a high school diploma and just 7 percent make less than $25,000 a year. More than 90 percent were employed and 14 percent reported they were college students, suggesting that very few welfare recipients are using the service.

Capital Bikeshare is run by Portland-based Alta Planning + Design in partnership with four jurisdictions: Alexandria, VA; Arlington, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and the District of Columbia. So far, the program has received $15.9 million[*] in state, local, and federal subsidies.

Why are affluent, educated, and employed whites riding taxpayer-subsidized bikes?

ReasonTV Correspondent Kennedy investigates.

[*]: Government funding for Capital Bikeshare is collected separately by each jurisdiction, and breaks down as follows: District of Columbia ($10.3 million), Montgomery County ($3.1 million), Arlington ($1.9 million), and Alexandria ($600 thousand).

Produced by Jim Epstein, with production help from Joshua Swain and D.C. Pedicab.

About 2 minutes.

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