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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