SF Bike Share Will Be “For Anybody Who Wants to Make a Short Trip”

The SFMTA has released a preliminary map of potential bike-share station locations (H/T Cyclelicious for inputting them into Google).

San Franciscans are burning with curiosity about the imminent arrival of bike share this summer. At a forum held by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association yesterday, participants wanted to know details like where the stations will be located and what color the bikes will be.

Officials working on the project say they can’t provide answers until the vendor is selected (expected by April), but Cyclelicious provides an early map of stations proposed by the SFMTA. Project manager Heath Maddox said that while the pilot’s 50 downtown stations won’t serve as wide an area as the world’s leading systems, the stations will be close enough together to achieve a similar “blanket-style” coverage within the service zone.

“The most important thing is to have a density of coverage that works,” Maddox told Streetsblog after the presentation [PDF] yesterday. “The regional system is really set up — and it makes sense — to be the first and last mile for regional transit, but the nature of what we’re doing in San Francisco is very different. It’ll be [for] anybody and everybody who wants to make a short trip via bicycle.”

Maddox said the station proposals are still very premature, and that the SFMTA will collect feedback on them through public hearings, an online map, and a possible town hall-style meeting.

As far as the potential for expansion after the pilot, planners couldn’t say much, but Maddox did present a citywide map of areas that are “ripe” for bike share, mainly featuring transit-accessible commercial corridors. Karen Schkolnick, the program manager for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said planners hope to use the information gathered from the regional 1,000-bike pilot to develop a “seamless transition to the next system.”

  • J

    This is a good first step, and I’m glad to see that SF is pushing for high-density system, which cover less area but is way more useful than a spread out system.

    That said, this is vastly less ambitious than many other bikeshare systems. In comparison, when Montreal launched their system, they had 3000 bicycles and 300
    stations, and Chicago’s system is also planning to launch 3000 bike, 300
    station system this summer. NYC’s bikeshare system, which also rolls out this summer, will have 10,000 bikes and 600 stations. NYC announced the vendor last September and have been conducting an intense series of community meetings to educate the public and determine station locations.

    I must say I’m pretty worried that it’s this late in the game, and we don’t even know who is running the thing, much less where the stations will go. In my opinion, it’s better to wait a bit and roll out a larger, but more comprehensive system, than to rush to get a fairly small system put in place. We shall see, though.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. I think bike share is the future, but not sure if this particular incarnation will be the one that sticks. It seems weird that we are so half-ass about it …..

  • During the period between 7 and 9am about 80 trains stop at each of the four BART stations in the pilot area, about 15 Caltrain trains in all of rush hour, plus the Transbay Terminal and the ferries. During this time period most or almost all of the use will start from BART and these other hubs.

    Even if all 500 bikes were placed at these 8 or 10 hubs at 7am, there will be a lot of scarcity throughout the rush hour, and that’s being generous. Things might be stabilize in the late morning and be helpful to tourists, but lunchtime will present a problem again…. and who knows about the rest of the day. And I am not even mentioning the very likely full racks at the other end of the journeys starting at hubs. People who have an hour for lunch can have perfect timing by foot or their own bike… but how will they plan if they e.g. have to take their bike to a second rack if the first one is full? Just one question…

  • J

    I should add that this may get a ton of commuter use, especially for Caltrain users, who can easily take a bikeshare for the last leg of their trip instead of transferring to bus/rail or hoofing it. It may also get decent use by tourists exploring downtown and by employees traveling between offices and going out for lunch. Basically, as designed, this will serve a niche market (perhaps quite well), but that is about all.

    While I don’t see this incarnation failing, I do think it will take a serious expansion to other parts of the city for SF residents to benefit much from it. It is only after an expansion that the system will truly change how large numbers of people move around the city and think about transportation.

  • but how will they plan if they e.g. have to take their bike to a second rack if the first one is full? 

    I pray that this is the problem we have to solve…

  • mikesonn

    I hope the data that can be collected, is collected, and then actually used to make policy decisions.

    One could easily find out popular stations, where the bike is taken (not GPS, but just tag in/out data), if racks are used or under used, which often have open spaces, when each station is popular, etc.

    Very exciting and if it uses Clipper you can add that data onto BART/Muni data and see where trips originate, duration, travel patters. I think it is very exciting. BUT the agencies have to use the data, which currently the seem incapable of actually doing.

  • Mark

    Unless San Fransisco has been in negotiations with a vendor for _LONG_ time, their schedule is not possible. They want 1,000 bikes on the street by summer of 2012? Alta/BiXi is already busy with the NYC bike share and who knows what’s next for B-cycle. 

  • Mark

    Unless San Fransisco has been in negotiations with a vendor for _LONG_ time, their schedule is not possible. They want 1,000 bikes on the street by summer of 2012? Alta/BiXi is already busy with the NYC bike share and who knows what’s next for B-cycle. 

  • Mark

    I now see that the pilot is much smaller…that makes it more probable.

  • Mark

    I now see that the pilot is much smaller…that makes it more probable.

  • If anyone’s curious, I made a map showing the preliminary locations of the kiosks in Mountain View: http://g.co/maps/2py6w

    Pretty sprawled out! 

  • Good stuff Jarrett! I was wondering what this would look like in a more suburban setting – not to say Mountain view fits that term entirely. I’m really happy to see more details come out about this program. Things were too fuzzy for awhile..

  • T K

    Why wouldn’t the preliminary map have at least one potential station in both the Sunset and Richmond?  

  • Anonymous

    Because just one station that far away from the others won’t work. Plus, that is really going for a very small segment of the population that would ride that far and hence isn’t the most efficient use of what is already going to be a small roll-out. If anything, they should instead extend it to Fisherman’s Wharf (for the tourists) and the Mission.

  • @jd_x:disqus : is there a shortage of bikes for the tourists or anyone else near Fisherman’s Wharf today?

  • mikesonn

    Short term rental, not day rental. This bike share would be an A to B type of rental, as opposed to round trip.

  • T K

    It takes all of 20 minutes to ride from the sunset to downtown…why would it have to be a day rental?
    Or how about in GGP, the panhandle, or the Haight?  I’m sure plenty of tourists would want to do a one way ride to other places in the city.  Residents could ride to downtown from those areas and tourists would take them back out to those areas.  It’s worth a try.

  • Anonymous

    @RoyCrisman:disqus wrote: “is there a shortage of bikes for the tourists or anyone else near Fisherman’s Wharf today?”

    I believe there are *zero* bike share bicycles available right now. You’re probably thinking standard bike rentals though. But that is something else entirely different and appeals to a much smaller subset of tourists. Going into a bike shop, doing all the paperwork, sizing and picking out the bike, etc. is a pain that stops most people from renting bikes. Bike share changes that because it’s so easy to just stick your credit card in and off you go. It’s a totally different concept.

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