Editors: This was originally published in Issue 154 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine.
Your SF Bicycle Coalition is committed to advocating for better biking in all San Francisco neighborhoods and for people of all backgrounds. We know that affordability is a crucial barrier to biking for many people in our city, and that transportation is the second-highest household expense in San Francisco after housing itself. That’s why, in 2012, we created the Bike it Forwards program to help bring biking to more San Franciscans than ever before.
For the past three years, we have collaborated closely with diverse community-based organizations across the city, including PODER, Causa Justa :: Just Cause and Chinatown Community Development Center. Together, we’ve placed hundreds of reclaimed and donated bicycles into the hands of people who want and need affordable, reliable and healthy ways to get around San Francisco.
We are excited to expand our work promoting affordable, healthy and carbon-free transportation choices. The upcoming expansion of Bay Area Bike Share presents an incredible opportunity to ensure that all San Franciscans can take advantage of our ever-improving network of bike lanes.
Currently, bike share in San Francisco exists as a pilot network concentrated in the northeast sector of the city. This limited service area renders the present network impractical for people living in neighborhoods including the Bayview, the Excelsior and Visitacion Valley. We know that these neighborhoods are home to many individuals and families burdened by transportation expenses. As a pilot program, the current Bay Area Bike Share system has just 35 stations and around 350 bicycles in San Francisco. The system’s expansion is slated to include hundreds of stations across the city and more than 4,000 additional bikes in San Francisco alone over the next two years.
Where Should New Bike Share Stations Go?
At its peak, Bay Area Bike Share will boast at least 320 stations in San Francisco. Approvals of individual station placements are expected to begin by this spring. Motivate, the contracted owner and operator of the bike-share system, is still taking station requests at suggest.bayareabikeshare.com. Users can submit station requests or “like” station requests already submitted.
Beyond individual station placement and approval, your SF Bicycle Coalition’s advocacy will also focus on issues related to pricing and station density. With the network’s expansion, annual memberships will increase from $88 to $149—a significant jump, but one mitigated by reduced annual memberships for people who qualify for discounted utility or Muni programs. Those discounted memberships are currently planned to be offered at $60 per year.
We hope to work with Motivate towards expanding eligibility for discounted memberships so that all low-income San Francisco households can benefit, including those without bank accounts or credit cards. We are encouraged by similar, ambitious models across the nation, such as Divvy for Everyone in Chicago, where the annual discounted membership costs only $5.
Ensuring adequate station density and placement will be crucial to the expanded network’s ability to meet the needs of all San Franciscan communities. Motivate has already committed to ensuring that all historically-underserved neighborhoods, from the Tenderloin to Crocker-Amazon, will benefit from bike share’s expansion.
Bike Share Will Hire Locally, Focus on Underserved Residents
One additional, important benefit of the Bay Area Bike Share system will be the creation of new, bicycle-related jobs, generating a new category of stakeholders for biking in San Francisco. Motivate will post job openings through San Francisco’s First Source Hiring Program, which connects dislocated workers and economically disadvantaged individuals with entry-level jobs.
In just a couple of years, the Bay Area Bike Share expansion is expected to blanket our city with a world-class bike-share system that serves every neighborhood. Bay Area Bike Share will serve daily commuters looking to avoid the hassle of locking up their own bikes. It will serve casual riders trying to make quick trips more conveniently. The system will help regional commuters dump their cars and solve the first- and last-mile problems of their commutes. And it will deliver a new, affordable transportation options for households feeling the pain of budget challenges.
The upgraded bike-share network will be the Bay Area’s first new transit system in generations. Over the coming months, your SF Bicycle Coalition will continue advocating to make Bay Area Bike Share a robust system that serves all of San Francisco’s diverse communities.