Meet Bay Area Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share officials say this color and design are only preliminary the "front runner" options.

Update 4:53 p.m.: The SFMTA just launched a bike-share station crowdsourcing map (using, we should note, a tool from OpenPlans, Streetsblog’s parent organization). The agency wants “people’s comments on where they would like to see Bay Area Bike Share stations as well as what they think of the initial 35 station locations,” said spokesperson Ben Jose.

It’s probably safe to get excited now.

San Franciscans got their first glimpse [PDF] at how the bikes and the price scheme for the new Bay Area Bike Share system are shaping up at an open house held by the SFMTA yesterday.

The seafoam celeste color and logo on the wheel “skirt guard” shown above are not final — they’re just the “front runner” designs that have come out of deliberations between the various agencies and stakeholder groups involved, said Heath Maddox, the SFMTA’s bike-share program manager.

Bay Area Bike Share's price scheme is expected to be within the normal range of other bike-share systems around the country. Click to enlarge.

“This is a color that hasn’t been used in any other bike-share system, so the manufacturer has to test it on half a dozen different frames to ensure the quality and consistency,” said Maddox.

Bay Area Bike Share, set to launch in August, will be managed by Alta, which also launched Citi Bike — the nation’s largest system — in New York City on Monday. The 6,000-bike Citi Bike system is already being used for more than 10,000 trips per day, and nearly 24,000 members have signed up. Bay Area Bike Share will use the same sturdy bike models as Citi Bike, except they’ll have more gears (seven as opposed to three).

With SF’s launch including only 350 bikes at 35 downtown stations (and another 350 in four cities down to San Jose), advocates have called for SF to move quickly to expand its system, since bike-share systems that are too small to serve a useful range risk under-use and failure. By next spring, Maddox said Bay Area Bike Share is expected to expand to the full 1,000 bikes originally promised for the pilot (which would include a total of 500 in downtown SF).

“We hear loud and clear that people want this to go big, and we want it to go big, too,” said Maddox. “We’re turning over every stone for sums of money to help it hit the ground running.”

Karen Schkolnick, grant program manager for the Bay Area Quality Management District — the agency coordinating the regional program — said that the agency will soon launch a “request for proposals” for private sponsors to help fund an expansion. She also said the BAAQMD has been fielding interest from officials in other counties, like Marin, who are interested in bringing the bike-share to their cities. “We’re busy, busy every day,” she said.

Image: SFMTA
  • guest

    The Air District makes the decision. The vendor must verify that the color can be replicated reliably on the bikes. And this system will expand, not just to the peninsula, but the east bay, north bay, and possibly even to the sacramento region.

  • Let’s clear up one thing here; International Orange is really a red, not the orange orange of the Giants, or the “Pure Orange” of Public Bikes. I have several orange public bikes as an office share fleet, and one strange thing is riding around and have people constantly comment on how much they love the color. I would think at this point everyone would be used to Rob Forbes’s excellent color sense, orange being their number one seller, but it seems not. Rob calls the colors “lickable”. I get constant positive comments from total strangers. Apparently there are insurmountable technical issues with the Golden Gate Bridge Red (i.e. International Orange). The public bike orange is a standard color:

    If we don’t want to go bold let’s go classic and reseved: white: simple, visible, and you never get sick of it. The Celeste, or Sea Foam, is one of those colors that many despise, right or wrong. The justification for using it is that no other bike share system has used this stock color. Think about that for a bit. There is a reason it’s the last available “original” color: many people don’t like it in a visceral way. And it has nothing to connect it to the Bay Area culturally, or Marin for that matter. It will be great for the St. Thomas Virgin Islands bike share system…

  • Actually, no. This was Altas first launch with their in house software and there have been a TON of problems, which hadnt happened in any of their previous systems.

  • Anonymous

    The preference for a bright color vs subtle color is interesting. Here is the US most people want bright colors for visibility.In Paris, the bikes are dull gray, I assume to not distract or compete with the city’s beauty. The presumption is that drivers shouldn’t need bright colors to spot someone. I honestly think people won’t choose to ride or not ride based on the color.

  • triple0

    I rode the 3-speed version of this bike up Capitol Hill recently — no problems there.

  • I would guess they don’t want a rear rack for legal reasons, as it is not permitted to ride on the back in California. BUT there is not really a safety issue with good bikes – probably more people ride on the back of bikes in Holland than the total number of people who ride bikes in the USA.

  • Regarding bright colors with the intention of providing visibility: Other bikes are not so-colored, so why should one type of bike stand out? Should pedestrians wear bright stuff for the same reason? The attention-getter needs to be the stations as that is where bikes can be taken or left, BUT then again why is the Bay Area (and beyond?) going forward with this system that is now old-skool within bike share development? Station-based systems are very expensive – see an alternative and this results in the perfect balance of less bikes than is necessary and greenwash – see – (what conditions is BAAQMD imposing on possible partners?).

    About the allegations of unfair labor practices with Alta in DC – see & – I would hope that SFMTA or one or more of the Supes requires that this is resolved before bike share begins in the Bay Area.

  • @Jass – I stand corrected. But the tabloids have warped everybody’s minds, mine included.

  • @Todd – Frame color visibility really doesn’t make much difference the way that e.g. jacket color does. It’s a red herring.

  • Yeah, Giants colors would definitely go over well in Oakland when Bikeshare gets over there.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll just point out that it is legal in CA to carry passengers on a bike (back, front, wherever) as long as the passenger has a seat. If designed for it then a rear rack can be considered a seat.

  • Its sort of amusing that the tabloids have made up problems when theres some really serious failures going on. Check their facebook page, its a complaint massacre. Once again, Alta had no idea what they were doing.


    I just had a look at the service area map. Mostly South of Market. This is yet another sop thrown to placate the techies, who get it all anyway.

  • What?

    If this was to placate the techies the service map would match the Google bus stops. I don’t see any stations in the Mission/Noe/Bernal/Glem/Marina at all.

  • x.trapnel

    The front “racks” are an inexcusable mistake. They look identical to the ones in the DC bikeshare bikes, and those are useless. It’s not like they were trying to save weight here–just put a full-size basket it. “Fits more than a basket”–are they joking?

  • gibarian

    Here’s my color choice: International Orange, to match the bridge. San Francisco isn’t a mint-green town.

  • keenplanner

    a flourescent orange herring

  • keenplanner

    International Orange. We want our carpet to match the drapes!

  • Anonymous

    Have the designers never looked on YouTube? there are tons of examples of people grinding, thrashing, and all sorts of extreme riding on the Velib & Velov bikes in Paris & Lyon. I wager that 30% of these derailleurs will be bent or broken within 6 months.

    Btw, I love celeste color. Bianchi FTW!

  • Anonymous

    A cursory look at the crowdsourcing map reveals that people expect to be able to ride up Potrero Hill and Pacific Heights with these bikes. The Oslo bysykkel were doable because they were light and even though only 6 gears (2×3), were no problem to ascend hills. These monsters will not work for most people.

  • Anonymous

    DC hills and SF cliff are no comparison… and that assumes the derailleur on your bike hasn’t already been thrashed!

  • Anonymous

    Bianchi celeste FTW! Orange sucks.


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