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In Arlington, Cash-Friendly Bikeshare Eliminates A Barrier To Low-Income Residents

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Arlington County recently opened up bike-sharing to residents without credit or debit cards.
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Arlington County recently opened up bike-sharing to residents without credit or debit cards.

In Arlington, the Bikeshare program is considered part of the county's urban transit system. And since you can pay cash to ride the bus or train, Arlington has decided you should be able to pay cash for a Bikeshare membership, too.

"One of the criticisms of bikesharing throughout the country is that you have to have a credit card to access this system," says Chris Hamilton, who runs Arlington's Commuter Services bureau. He says the cash program is designed to help folks who do not have credit or debit cards. They can enter any of the county's five commuter stores to pay cash for a Bikeshare key and start riding right away.

"We know from research that the people using Capital Bikeshare throughout the D.C. region and bikeshare systems nationally don't reflect the people that live in the cities," Hamilton says. "They are often younger, whiter and wealthier than the population at large."

Hamilton says expanding Bikeshare's customer base to low-income neighborhoods squares with the county's long-running efforts at limiting traffic congestion.

"We are putting it in every neighborhood. We've put Bikeshare along Columbia Pike and in South Arlington, some of the lower income neighborhoods," Hamilton says.

Both Montgomery County and the District have programs designed to help people without credit cards use Bikeshare. There have been more than 9 million Bikeshare trips in the D.C. region over the past four years.

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