TL;DR – This bike share expansion is a huge deal, and you should immediately request stations near your home, job, and other haunts. You can also keep reading. Your call. (There is a right choice, though. Are you making it?)
Today, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted to dramatically expand Bay Area Bike Share from 750 to over 7,000 bikes by the end of 2017. This is a big deal for lots of reasons. In a region where transit is the average household’s second-largest expense, after only housing, this puts one of the most affordable means of transportation within reach of millions more Bay Area residents. The new contract means that 4,500 bikes will be coming to San Francisco alone in the next two years, providing accessible, efficient, and fun transportation options for San Francisco residents and visitors alike.
The Bay Area Bike Share program, which launched in August 2013, provides a fleet of bicycles for short-term rentals from secure docking stations 24 hours a day. Bicycles can be rented from or returned to any station, creating a convenient transportation option between each location. The new contract will still be regional in nature (but almost 10 times the size!), meaning that a membership will let you use bikes in Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Emeryville, San Francisco, and any other participating Bay Area cities. For so many folks trying to see friends or make it to work across the Bay Area, bike share provides an important connection for those tricky first and last miles to BART and Muni, and frees them from alternatives that are more costly, less environmentally friendly, and prone to long waits.
With 7,000 bikes around the Bay Area, this program will be one of the densest in the country, setting San Francisco up to be a leader in bike share systems around the world. Bike share has been successfully implemented in dozens of cities across the United States, including New York City where CitiBike users have logged more than 16 million trips on the robust system. In New York City and Washington, D.C. the program has contributed to a doubling in the number of people riding bikes — exactly the increase that San Francisco needs to meet its goal of having 8% of people get around by bike by 2018.
The locations of new bike share stations will be determined, in part, based upon recommendations by individuals and businesses. Motivate — the new owner of the Bike Share system — is distributing a map to enable public requests for bike share stations. Click here to submit a station request (or several!).
The system’s expansion will allow it to serve as a true complement to our transit system. New research on bike-sharing from the University of Chicago shows that having stations spaced within one-to-two blocks of each another is critical to make it convenient for people to access the stations and plan their trips. Four thousand five hundred bikes in San Francisco will mean that we’ll be able to hit that target in much of the City. (Where is up to you, of course.)
Stay tuned: your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will be spending lots of energy in the coming months to make sure we have the strongest bike share system possible. That means making sure stations are placed equitably around the city, providing affordable and efficient transportation options for all San Franciscans, and helping transform our streets into the vibrant, safe spaces we all deserve. Join us in making this dream a reality.