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.
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.