Bike-Share Coming to SF and Silicon Valley This July

San Francisco and four cities in Silicon Valley will launch the region’s first bike-share system this July, implementing a new transportation option that cities around the world have embraced to expand access to bicycling.

A bike-share vendor ##http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2010-12/bike-sharing-technologies-on-display-in-san-francisco##demonstration## at Civic Center in December 2010 (this is not necessarily what the system will look like). Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/5278744578/sizes/l/in/photostream/##SFBC/Flickr##

The system will include 500 bicycles at approximately 50 stations in downtown San Francisco, plus another 500 bikes and 50 stations located near Caltrain stations in Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose. The scope is more ambitious than San Francisco’s previous proposal for bike-share, but smaller in scale than the world’s most successful systems.

“A large-scale citywide bike-share will make it easier for locals and visitors alike to see San Francisco by bike, and help our city reach the goal of 20 percent of trips by bike by 2020,” said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Deputy Director Kit Hodge.

While the SFBC is looking forward to the pilot launch this summer, Hodge said it “also believe[s] that the pilot should be quickly expanded into a robust, big-enough-to-succeed phenomenon that have proven successful in Paris, China and London.”

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said San Francisco stations will be “centered in SF’s employment- and transit-rich Downtown/SOMA corridor between the Financial District, Market Street and the Transbay and Caltrain terminals with connections at Market Street BART stations and the Ferry Terminal.”

The system will launch “just in time for America’s Cup,” said Rose, as a key component of the “People Plan” announced by Mayor Ed Lee last April. Bike-share will be part of the initiative to encourage the hundreds of thousands of spectators expected to travel to the Embarcadero this summer to get around by foot, transit, and by bike.

The July launch was pushed back a few months from its original spring schedule, but Rose says the SFMTA is “confident that all the work we’ve done over the last year to ensure that the project meets the needs of all of our project partners throughout the region will yield a better result when we deliver the pilot later this year.”

The program is not San Francisco’s first plan for bike-share — a previous plan for a meager pilot of 50 bikes was dropped in late 2009 when Clear Channel backed out of a partnership with the city, after which then-Mayor Gavin Newsom pledged to launch a larger system. Santa Clara County’s VTA was set to launch the region’s first bike-share in 2010, but delayed its own program until it could be integrated into this broader regional system. Agencies are currently selecting a vendor to operate the system.

Stay tuned to Streetsblog for more details as the program develops. For more information, check out the SFMTA’s website, which includes this presentation [PDF].

Map of San Francisco bike share areas. Specific locations are to be determined. Image: SFMTA
Regional locations for bike share stations along the Caltrain line.
  • Jarrett

    Sure, the number of bikes and stations needs to be higher, but we should commend the MTC and local agencies for implementing a regional bike share program. If bike share were divided into several different municipal systems, like the original proposal, that would be a disaster. Can you imagine having multiple memberships just to ride in San Francisco and Mountain View? Yuck. 

    One can dream, but maybe the regional membership model of this bike share will set a precedent for consolidating some of the region’s transit systems. 

  • One can dream, but maybe the regional membership model of this bike share will set a precedent for consolidating some of the region’s transit systems – Aaron that goes on the front page

  • For the tourist crowd I sure hope Sausalito gets in on the action.  I’ve heard but have yet to confirm that cyclists are often turned away at the ferry terminal due to lack of space; a bikeshare ought to help. 

    The Transportation Authority of Marin is studying bikeshare right now, and Lord help me if they start their own piddly suburban system without tying it into San Francisco.

  • “The system will include 500 bicycles at approximately 50 stations in downtown San Francisco.”

    “The system will launch ‘just in time for America’s Cup,’ said Rose, as a key component of the “People Plan” announced by Mayor Ed Lee last April. Bike-share will be part of the initiative to encourage the hundreds of thousands of spectators expected to travel to the Embarcadero this summer to get around by foot, transit, and by bike.”

    500 bikes is a very, very small number. (New York is rolling out a bikeshare program soon with 10,000 bikes.) Though I do understand it’s good to get something off the ground sooner rather than later, there is no way 500 bikes located in 50 stations (with most of the stations not located where America’s Cup spectators want to go) can be a “key component” of moving around hundreds of thousands of people. Maybe even 10,000 bikes couldn’t move around hundreds of thousands of people, but 500 certainly won’t do the job. The “People’s Plan” should encourage folks to bring their bikes with them on BART and Caltrain. This will provide the greatest happiness level for all concerned.

  • Mario Tanev

    I think it’s good that there is no fragmentation between agencies, but I surely hope that allocation will be based on ridership potential, rather than political allegiance. The problem with regional transportation agencies (e.g. BART) is that they care more about geographic equity than ridership potential. That’s why we’re talking about BART to Livermore, but we’re not talking about BART to 30th and Mission.

    A way to make this work could be if administration and some baseline funding was done by MTC, but local agencies were in charge of funding the supply of bike stations and bikes. This way SF can quickly ramp up supply with its own funds (for which SFBC would have to lobby).

  • Anonymous

    About time! Of course, I wish it was a bigger roll-out and am skeptical 500 bicycles are enough to get it to catch on ….

    And I’m also having a hard time understanding how this will work down in the Peninsula. For example, in Palo Alto and Mountain View, how many stations will there be? If there are only a few, I just can’t see that many people using it. Of course, if they target Caltrain riders (which I think they are), then that will help. But I think the details here will make all the difference.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Well, from what I’ve heard about it, consolidating transit agencies is a whole nother can o’ worms. Sounds simple enough, but for starters, there’s the issue of consolidating differing wages at each agency, and it’s been discussed for decades… there’s a story for a day when I’m feeling really, really investigative.

  • jdbig

    I thought the roll out for america’s cup was going to be larger, at least to Fisherman’s Wharf down the Embarcadero. Perhaps we’re getting less bike infrastructure yet again… Page 40 of the People Plan
    http://www.oewd.org/media/docs/AC34/09-30-11%20People%20Plan.pdf

  • Andy Chow

    The primary purpose for bike sharing is to facilitate short trips so it would help fill the gaps between transit centers and destinations. That would help make transit more competitive, and allows transit riders to use bikes for errands in the middle of the day. I don’t think the purpose of this program is to compete or replace the existing bike rental companies that cater to tourists.

    I am pleased that there would be a single program. If this works the way it is intended, then a single membership would provide access to all the sites. In some ways, it would be similar to county-wide library systems.

  • Wise choice to segway around the tenderloin.

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