“It’s a good thing getting people on bikes, moving and coming to PB and spending money locally,” said Heather Jones, co-owner of Pacific Beach Bikes at 852 Garnet Ave. about the new privately financed program wherein bicycles will be available for shared use to individuals on an automated, short-term basis.
“There will be enough business for everyone,” said Jones.
Fellow bike shop owner Jake Russell of Surf Monkey, located at 853 Grand Ave., disagreed, however.
“The city has partnered with a company (Decobike) that has no positive business history and doesn’t pay any taxes — sales, income or property — to the city, and I pay all three,” said Russell. “It’s going to turn people off to riding bikes.”
The city is working with national partner Decobike to bring the Bikeshare program to neighborhoods beginning this summer. Bikeshare is intended to provide affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in urban areas as an alternative to motorized public transportation or private automobiles. The goal is to reduce parking and traffic congestion, as well as air pollution.
One Bikeshare objective, according to company officials, is to connect the first or last mile between public-transit hubs. Bikeshare programs, they said, also address some of the primary disadvantages to bicycle ownership, including loss from theft or vandalism, lack of parking or storage and maintenance.
Under the Bikeshare concept, customers may access program bicycles via a network of city bike-sharing stations, checking them out from any station and returning them to any other station. Stations are solar-powered and automated and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each station will have a map indicating other station locations.
The new bikeshare program is being conducted in phases with the goal of ultimately providing 180 stations with 1,800 bikes citywide.
Pacific Beach is among the first neighborhoods in the Bikeshare program’s initial phase.
The 19 proposed bike stations in Pacific Beach are: Turquoise Street and La Jolla Mesa Drive; Turquoise Street and Cass Street; La Jolla Boulevard and Tourmaline Street; Loring Street and Cass Street; Cass Street and Chalcedony Street; Missouri Street and Mission Boulevard; Cass Street and Felspar Street; Garnet Avenue and Ocean Boulevard; Bayard Street and Garnet Avenue; Cass Street and Garnet Avenue; Fanuel Street and Garnet Avenue; Ingraham Street and Garnet Avenue; Garnet Avenue and Kendall Street; Morrell Street and Garnet Avenue; Grand Avenue and Bayard Street; Grand Avenue and Mission Boulevard; Reed Avenue and Oliver Court; Pacific Beach Drive and Mission Boulevard; and Pacific Beach Drive and Olney Street.
Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit promoting bicycling regionwide, said the cycling community is excited about Bikeshare’s arrival.
“It’s already in Miami, New York City and Washington, D.C.,” said Hanshaw, pointing out Bikeshare is “not a competing bike network,” but a component of an overall transportation system.
“It will encourage people to ride and, ultimately, help the local bike industry,” Hanshaw said, noting Bikeshare is geared primarily toward short, 30-minute trips that will “fill transportation gaps for many people.
“I can see it used as a convenience for people to get to local places and to work,” said Hanshaw.
Hanshaw said Bikeshare is being financed privately by Decobike, which is fronting start-up costs for the station-to-station network, while the city as a partner is invested in promoting the new cycling-sharing program.
Many proposed Bikeshare stations are near transit stops, which Hanshaw said “is smart,” because he said it will allow people to complete the “first or last mile” of their commuter trip.
Jones said she believes Bikeshare may be positive in that it could introduce people to bicycling as a transportation option that could later become a lifestyle.
The bike-shop owner expects some competition from Bikeshare, but said, “It’s not going to impact us too much.” She said her clients typically rent longer term — for hours rather than minutes — so they can ride the Mission Bay loop, which includes Sea World and the coast up to La Jolla.
Jones said there a dozen or more existing bike shops in Pacific Beach, with new ones continually “popping up all over the place.”
But she added it’s mostly “friendly competition,” and that business has been good and steady.
Russell, on the other hand, is convinced Bikeshare isn’t being done right and is doomed to failure because of its poor business model.
“(Bikeshare) is prohibitively expensive, like a gym membership,” he said. “It’s not going to work. It’s going to be a waste of money.”
Russell said a customer can rent a bike for $18 a day at Surf Monkey, whereas it would cost $50 or $60 to rent from Bikeshare for a comparable period of time.
He pointed out one of the big problems with Bikeshare, as proposed, is that “it’s not integrated with the bus or trolley transportation systems.
“They need to bring the two together,” he said. “Just putting a bike stand next to bus stop is not incorporating the two.”
Russell said there’s a real wait-and-see attitude now toward whether Bikeshare will succeed in San Diego.
“We don’t really know what to expect from them,” he said.
For more information, visit www.decobikesandiego.com.