SFCTA Report: Expand Bike-Share in San Francisco ASAP

The SF County Transportation Authority issued a new report Monday to guide the expansion of Bay Area Bike Share, which sees 90 percent of its rides in San Francisco, despite the city encompassing half of the system’s bikes and stations.

Photo: Sergio Ruiz/Flickr

Among the recommendations in the “Strategic Analysis Report” [PDF] is giving the SFMTA greater independence to plan and manage bike-share in San Francisco while other Bay Area cities work on their own expansions of the system.

“This SAR makes smart recommendations: embracing a regional system while not waiting to expand in San Francisco,” said Kit Hodge, deputy director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “Now it’s up to the city to really move forward. San Francisco residents and businesses have been very clear in their call from every corner of the city for more bike-share.”

The report notes that SF’s bike-share expansion is crucial to the system as a whole, given the high usage in SF by commuters who live in other areas: “As an indication of the regional demand for bike sharing in San Francisco, Alameda County has the second highest number of memberships in Bay Area Bike Share, even though there are currently no bike sharing stations or bicycles in the East Bay.”

The SFCTA also recommends that Bay Area Bike Share operations, currently overseen by the Bay Area Quality Management Distict, should be re-organized using “a hybrid model where a non-profit associated with or managed by a public agency administers the program and contracts with a private-sector operator.”

Here are the report’s full recommendations on bike-share expansion in San Francisco:

3. In the near term, we recommend that San Francisco pursue an organizational model for bike sharing where the bulk of decision-making happens at the local level while ensuring these decisions do not preclude the ability to meet regional standards described in recommendation #2. San Francisco should maintain local control of operational and funding decision-making to ensure that the local system can expand quickly and meet other local goals. At the same time, San Francisco should maintain flexibility in this approach, and the local governing body may consider shifting some governance functions to a regional bike sharing entity if becomes desirable in the future.

• SFMTA should continue its station site planning and develop a business model that shows how the proposed expansion can reach financial sustainability through the commitment of public funding, private sponsorship, user revenues, or a combination of all these sources.

• San Francisco should also actively pursue private-sector sponsorship opportunities, both locally and in partnership with the Air District and MTC for the region. Some level of subsidy for the regional system may be warranted in order to ensure it meets the regional standards, but it cannot happen at expense of meeting San Francisco’s goals, especially since the city’s market will likely drive any sponsorship program.

  • Jamison Wieser

    Don’t worry, the way politicians are so eager to sell of public property to the same corporations they exempt from paying taxes it’s only a matter of time before we’re riding Citibikes down Cisco Boulevard (formerly Market Street) to the McDonalds Em-burger-dero (formerly the embarcadero) so you can shop at the Safeway Ferry Build Marketplace.

    One everything public has been pawned, you won’t even notice your Citibike among all the other ads. Which reminds me of a trip to Europe…

    Several years ago I spent a week in Barcelona where their bike share program, Bicing, goes without a corporate sponsor. I didn’t have a chance to take advantage of it because it wasn’t in the neighborhood of the friend I was staying with, but he was excited because it had been announced it was coming soon.

    It’s not bike directly about bike share, but we did a lot of bus and metro travel and at some during the week I commented on how nice the busses and trains were advertising. He scoffed and said, “This isn’t America. We want people who visit to enjoy the city, not look at another star trek ad.” I was there during the opening weekend there and the poster was on just about every kiosk and bus shelter.

    He likened it being on a transit vehicle or on the bus to being inside a car or at home. He’s an architect and had thought about this a lot: you have control over your space and how many logos you’re willing to put up with. Filling busses with ads takes away some of the control you have over your environment and somewhere in the conversation there was a “you make it so unwelcoming no wonder people don’t take transit in your country” comment. Mind you there were still ads in shelters, on kiosks and on the outside of the busses no different than here, it’s just that’s where they drew the limit. When you were onboard a public vehicle you were given a reprieve.

  • Jamison Wieser

    Before jumping on to corporate sponsorship for expansion, your first point is deserving of some discussion. why does SF have such a high usage compared to San Jose? (focussing on the one other city with a pretty heave saturation) Before rolling out more it’s important to figure out where best to put them.

  • saimin

    SF has a higher usage because their stations are concentrated in a few square miles, creating a usable network (as long as your origin and destination are in that area). On the peninsula, the stations are spread out over several cities, and not spaced well enough to cover most destinations.

  • Jamison Wieser

    I should have been more clear that I meant getting into more granular level of detail and data the report doesn’t get into. We haven’t yet been provided information like lengths of checkout, how much turnover does each station have, how many bikes are returned to the same station vs. returned elsewhere, what are the most travelled routes between stations (that would make a nifty animation).

    Of bikes returned to the same station, do we know where the going to and from? Is there a common destination that should get its own bike station?

    Each city looks like a test configuration: Mountain view has a small cluster around each Caltrain Station. Palo Alto concentrates that along University and Redwood city has a heavier saturation going just a little further our than the other two. By percentage, Mountain View has had the largest growth in ridership. Do we know what’s up with that?

  • murphstahoe

    In MV, the only 2 docking stations that are far enough to merit the hassle of a bike instead of walking, are between 2 Caltrain stations, only one of which is a major hub. I suppose it’s a boon for people who live at SA station and can ride to downtown, but that’s a small market.

    Pretty much the same can be said for PA/RWC. Why bother? Especially if you have a walk to the pods and from the pods, just walking might be shorter.

  • murphstahoe

    I’m just unhappy there aren’t enough bikes and I think the shilling is worth it.

    Ad space with no public benefit is a big billboard over the roadway.

  • murphstahoe

    a pessimist sees the ads on top of a bike instead of a bike without an ad. An optimist sees a person on top of a bike instead of in a taxi or car.

  • murphstahoe

    San Mateo is a much better target than MV and RWC, IMHO. There are more pockets of things in that city, and the downtown core is larger. Much like having PA bikes downtown and on Cal Ave and Stanford (oh wait…)

  • Jame

    I think San Mateo has enough close together activity center. Ironically I saw a woman biking on el camino past hillsdale mall. I followed her for about a mile. It looked pretty scary, cars weren’t giving her much space.

  • Andy Chow

    You should know that there’s local monies involved in the creation of the BABS. It wouldn’t be helpful to move San Jose funded bikes to San Francisco. Even if SF were to buy out San Jose, San Jose may not want to invest in BABS again in the future (and may rather opt for an incompatible system so their bikes cannot be transferred). There’s it goes a bike share system that is meant to be regional. At best you will get a fragmented system mirroring our transit system.

    That’s one of several reasons why we don’t have larger regional transit systems. If lets say SamTrans and Muni were combined, wouldn’t some of you would start advocating cutting buses in Menlo Park to pay for more Muni?

    I am all for more SF funding to get more BABS within SF, but discussion about transferring bikes can ultimately hurt a system that’s meant to be regional.

  • EastBayer

    Does anyone care that if you go look at the public data posted for Capital Bike Share and Hubway, that virtually no trips are 3 miles or longer, and very few are more than two? It seems to me that people here are projecting their own preferences onto others.

    Oh, and the distance from the Castro or 24th Street to downtown is totally irrelevant because there are so many intermediate locations that people might want to visit that would be great bike share trips. Like, between those two locations…

  • murphstahoe

    Capital Bike Share and Hubway do not have the “advantage” of our geographic setup with large residential areas in the city and a train taking people to jobs south that are 2-3 miles from the train station.

    This is why MBTA commuter rail sort of allows bikes grudgingly, and has empty reverse commute trains, and Caltrain packs 48-80 bikes per train each direction and has 40% reverse commuters.

    It can be argued that the Bay Area got this wrong, but that’s why the model should be different.

    Oh – and it never snows. And people in Boston and DC are a bunch of woosies.

  • andrelot

    And then you arrive sweating for you job…

  • murphstahoe

    How did that work out? Oops.

  • murphstahoe

    This has clearly proven to be a huge problem for the thousands of Bay Area residents who bike to work daily.

  • Easy

    That’s pretty optimistic. It takes me about 20 min on my upright bike, and I allow 30 to get the train.


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