City Desk

Reason: What Are All These Rich White People Doing on Bikeshare?

What's up with conservatives and Capital Bikeshare this summer? First a Washington Times columnist exposed their metrosexual, dress-wearing ways, and now, the libertarians at Reason are wondering why Bikeshare's getting government money when its users are better educated and more likely to be employed than the average Washingtonian.

In a video about the program, MTV VJ-turned-Reason-contributor Kennedy wants to know why Bikeshare is partially funded by the government when a November survey of Bikeshare users found that only 7 percent of the survey's respondents make less than $25,000, and that 53 percent of respondents have earned a master's degree or higher.

"Let's face it," she says. "We all know biking is awesome, but we don't need government programs to pay for it."

Part of Kennedy's criticism of Bikeshare is that Montgomery County and Rockville received a $1.3 million grant from the federal government last year to make Bikeshare more accessible to lower-income residents by building new stations and providing free memberships.

"More than 90 percent [of Bikeshare survey respondents] were employed and 14 percent reported they were college students, suggesting that very few welfare recipients are using the service," Kennedy and co-author Jim Epstein write in an accompanying article.

It turns out that Montgomery County's Bikeshare grant doesn't start until later this summer, a fact that goes unmentioned in Reason's piece.

"You may think it's dissembling to include that grant," Reason editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie told me. Maybe! Gillespie, not surprisingly for a libertarian editor, has qualms about the government funding Bikeshare no matter who's using it. But it certainly seems cheeky to criticize Bikeshare for failing to attract less-affluent users before that part of the program's even started.

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  • creativemeat

    I know a few research scientists with good incomes and PhDs who also receive grants.

  • Martin

    Ms. Kennedy awkwardly avoids all the positive spillover effects that cycling has on communities, as well as the purpose of the program.

    Moreover, the entire tone in this piece is very disingenuous. Reason consistently opposes all funding programs that target minorities and the working poor. For them to take the position that cap bike is a poor funding chose because it does not sufficiently target those demographics is internally inconsistent. It also makes the piece feel very "holier than thou" when few people would believe that "libertarian" policies more effectively target minorities and/or the poor. At best, libertarian policies subscribe to the "rising tide raises all boats" fallacy.

  • JM

    I also hear that the majority of people who can afford to drive cars are employed and make a decent salary. Clearly we need to eliminate government funding for roads and highways. Let those wealthy SUV drivers stop sucking at the government teat!

  • What?

    LOL JM! Kennedy is full of asphalt.

  • Bossi

    Maybe it's just me, but I'd think that being able to move more freely would equate to more... well... freedom.

  • Don

    I'm glad other folks had the energy & stomach lining to bother to address this. I can no longer find the enthusiasm beyond thinking "oh look, they found another way to carry water for the Republican party." If Riggs didn't manage to write one good thing for every five I'da stopped paying any attention to Reason once Balko left.

  • Marion Barry

    It's because rich white people have less carbon emissions.

  • Milton Noones

    Privatize all roads now! No more handouts.

  • Rob

    The weirdest thing about this is the pie chart that shows that "only" 47% of DC's population is college educated. The national average is about 30%, and DC is frequently reconginized as a city that has one of the highest shares of college educated population.

    Just bizarre...

  • oboe

    I'm angry that DC's municipal swimming pools are entirely taxpayer funded, but can be used by middle-class residents. Outrage!

    Also, I'm pleased that 80s cultural rejects like "Kennedy The V-Jay-Jay" are being given wingnut welfare sinecures like this plum Reason gig. You go girl!

  • EdTheRed

    To sum up:

    Wingnut Welfare Recipient Objects To Other Rich White People Getting Handouts.

  • Mike Licht

    The BikeShare program exists so Reason readers can find vacant taxis when they want to go swill sherry at the Cato Institute.

  • Pingback: Breaking: Affluent, Well-Educated White Guys Dig Bicycle Subsidies for Affluent, Well-Educated White Guys - Hit & Run :

  • Arlingtonian

    Capital Bikeshare is a great idea but in Arlington it has been put solely in the places that upper-middle class educated white people live. Of course the Reason bit is a hack job but it's fair to question the extent to which the program underserves the poor. (No opinion expressed about DC's station placement.)