In a campaign that began almost five years ago, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition fought for and won commitments to an equitable and affordable bike share system. Bike Share for All has been a resounding success, with over 20% of Bay Wheels members qualifying for low-income access, a figure that reflects the demographics of the Bay Area. As part of that campaign, we also ensured that in-person cash payments would be available as an option for Bike Share for All members who may not have access to a bank account.
That’s why a recent announcement by Lyft (who now owns and operates the Bay Wheels system) that they are eliminating that in-person, cash payment option came as a surprise. Lyft informed Bike Share for All members that they would now be required to use a prepaid debit card to pay for their annual Bay Wheels membership. However, prepaid debit cards can create more barriers and are not an accessible replacement of cash payment.
In order to realize our organizational value of Transportation Justice, we are asking Lyft along with the SFMTA and MTC to reconsider the elimination of an in-person cash payment option for Bike Share for All members. Our demands for bike share in San Francisco remains the same:
- Provide and actively promote a robust program for low-income users that is easy to sign up for and has cash payment and monthly payment options;
- Perform outreach in all communities across the city and provide information in languages other than English;
- Provide full access to bicycles without requiring users to have a smartphone, a mobile app or a pre-existing account with another service; and
- Distribute bikes and stations in diverse communities across the city, expanding service areas to include communities that have faced historic disinvestment in transportation.
We understand that there may be ongoing administrative and operational challenges in maintaining in-person cash payments, and as a community partner we are ready to meet and strategize system improvements that may reduce those burdens. In a city that continues to face challenges in providing safe, healthy and affordable transportation for all of its residents, it’s critically important to provide access to everyone who would like to use bike share.