Bike-Share Programs for Low-Income Families

This information is current as of June 23, 2022.

Bike-sharing programs are growing in popularity, especially in busy, urban areas where bike riding is one of the leading transportation methods. These programs are highly convenient and efficient but are bike-share programs for low-income families also?

Bike-Share Programs for Low-Income Families

Most bike-sharing programs offer low-income discounts for those who need them, like Lime Bike, LyftUp, JUMP Bikes, and Spin Access. Assistance comes from significant discounts or services via smartphones and credit card users. 

These are usually state and federal assistance programs that work through one of the above-listed bike-sharing systems. Eligibility is easy to prove since those who are on WIC, Medicaid, or receive food stamps can easily show their need for the service.

The Lime Access Program

According to Lime, the Lime Access program is one of the top affordability programs in the industry. If you are on any of the above-listed state or federal assistance programs, you will likely be approved for the Lime Access program. 

It’s a straightforward program to apply for, and signing up for the Lime Affordability Program is as easy as filling out their online form. You must have a state driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, or a U.S. passport to apply.

If you are on any of the below-listed programs, Lime considers that a qualifier for approval, but you will have to prove the requisite proof that you are on the program rather than just stating so on the online form. 

  • Subsidized Housing (HUD Housing)
  • The California (CARE) program, which is a reduced rate program for utility bills
  • NSLP (Free or reduced school lunches)
  • Social Security Supplemental Income
  • WIC
  • SNAP
  • Medicaid
  • Reduced Transit Fare Program

According to Lime, “Your legal name must be displayed on both your ID and proof of public benefits enrollment” is required. When you visit their site, you will have to fill out the following information:

  • Your first and last name, along with your email address
  • Your phone number
  • The city and town that you reside in
  • Upload a valid identification
  • Select the public benefit that you are currently on
  • Upload a file proving that you are on the listed public benefit that you selected
  • Submit your application

If you are qualified for enrollment in the Lime Access Program, you should get a response within a few business days.

LyftUp Free One-Year Bike Membership

LyftUp offers low-income individuals an entire year’s worth of free bike-sharing benefits to qualifying customers if they’re between the ages of 16 and 20. The program is operated through the YMCA. 

If you are interested in claiming your one-year benefit, contact or travel to your local YMCA to sign up. LyftUp also works through various programs to provide free rides for low-income individuals to get to and from prospective employment opportunities, as well as job training, interviews, and getting to and from the job itself.

LyftUp has partnered with several organizations as well.

  • My Brother’s Keeper Alliance
  • National Urban League
  • Goodwill
  • United Way
  • United Negro College Fund
  • US Black Chamber of Congress
  • National Action Network
  • Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law

The donated rides portion of the program is due to a partnership between LyftUP and United Way or Goodwill. Either way, the process is the same, and the rides are free for those who qualify but especially for those seeking employment.

JUMP Bikes Boost Plans

JUMP Bikes is a bike-sharing program local to the Washington D.C. area, and, as of right now, they have spread to the Alexandria and Arlington areas as well. If you qualify for the Boost plan, you will have access to unlimited rides for only $5 per month. 

According to JUMP, the Boost Plan is available for anyone who is enrolled in any of the following:

  • SNAP
  • RES (Residential Essential Service)
  • RAD (Residential Aid Discount)
  • DCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

The only exception is that you only have half an hour. Unlimited monthly rides are permitted if each ride doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes. JUMP achieved this by partnering with the District of Columbia and the WABA.

Spin Access Discounts

Spin is another bike-sharing program whose primary focus is “mobility equity.” Spin offers significant discounts on bike-sharing programs for potential riders who qualify. That includes access for those who may not have smartphones and credit cards.

Spin Access has several built-in programs for low-income families and individuals. 

  • Community Advisors that work exclusively with mobile equity programs
  • Rider Interviews to determine qualifying individuals
  • Rider Surveys to determine riding habits and how people prefer to get around
  • Site Observations to discover what barriers exist 
  • Expert Interviews to gather more information
  • Data Analysis helps Spin develop better habits by providing access to and assisting low-income individuals with bike-sharing programs
  • Community Open Houses help gather feedback as well

Spin is entirely focused on helping low-income individuals who really need the rides.

Low-Income Bike Sharing by State

Some bike-sharing companies only extend to their respective states and not outside of them. There are eight states, along with Washington D.C., with their own programs designed for low-income individuals.

  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington D.C.

Bike Share for All

This is a program that operates in California. Bike Share for All only requires $5 for an entire year’s worth of membership for those who qualify as low-income individuals. The same qualifications for most programs apply here as well. All you need is proof that you are the recipient of a state or federal assistance program.

Bike Share for All mainly applies to those who live in the Bay area, as that is one of the only areas offering bike-sharing.

Capital Bikeshare

Capital Bikeshare is a Virginia program that also offers the same bike-sharing benefits of $5 per year that covers your entire annual membership. When you are approved for membership, Capital Bikeshare even supplies you with a bike helmet and cycling classes free of charge.


Located in Toledo, Ohio, ToleGo is like some others on this list. The program offers membership for $5 that covers your entire year. Riders even get an RFID chip to unlock the bikes when they are ready to ride.

That way, riders aren’t required to have a smartphone to operate the bike-sharing rack. The bike-sharing package for low-income riders includes a full hour per ride, so you should have plenty of time to get from point A to point B.


BIKETOWN is an Oregon bike-sharing organization that does even better than all of the counterparts listed in this article. They offer low-income individuals an entire year for only $3 per year. 

That also includes a 20% discount for anything in Community Cycling Center, a deal that isn’t offered to anyone that is not a proven, low-income person. You also get the entire first month for free, with the $3 yearly membership not coming up until you have been in the bike-sharing program for the whole first month.

Citi Bike

Citi Bike is another $5 annual membership fee for low-income individuals that live in New York. Once you have paid your $5 fee, you can access bike racks in Manhattan, Jersey City, Queens, Jersey City, and Brooklyn.

You also get 45 minutes per ride which is a perfect amount of time to get across town and find your way to your new job or wherever you need to go. On this plan, you can also upgrade to an e-bike, which will charge you $.05 per minute of ride time.

All Things Considered

Bike-sharing programs are a growing commodity and are extremely valuable to low-income individuals who really need that ride, whether for a new job or just to get across town so you can go to the grocery store.

With luck and popularity, these programs will continue to evolve and expand, bringing the service to more low-income people that really need it.

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Low-income Americans who qualify for government programs like Medicaid and SNAP may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Both Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs designed to help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.

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