On July 20, community activists Alan Harris and Jennifer Tandy addressed Pacific Beach Town Council about an ongoing petition drive opposing PB boardwalk's commercialization.
Following that meeting, Harris noted a petition drive opposing boardwalk DecoBike stations had garnered about 3,000 signatures in just three of four weeks.
Harris said the objective is clear.
“We want to see the two stations on the boardwalk get relocated,” he said pointing out beach residents have had multiple meetings with both DecoBike and the city.
Harris and other residents addressed the City Council recently about their opposition to boardwalk DecoBike stations. Told by the city that those stations were “lucrative,” Harris said they also learned DecoBike wants to increase, to 20, the number of its coastal bike stations between Ocean Beach and La Jolla.
“Those stations were never planned, they were never shown to anybody in the community,” noted Harris. “We've been fighting them for a little over a year since they were first installed on the boardwalk.”
Brian Curry, Pacific Beach Planning Group chair, said the city advisory group remains “opposed to DecoBike on our boardwalk and in tourist-oriented locations which compete with our small-business owners. The city is committed to running the program without public subsidy. Unfortunately, the city position results in a subsidy being paid by our local bike shop rental business owners.”
According to city spokeswoman Katie Keach, as additional sites are considered throughout the city for a functional bike sharing network, no additional stations will be constructed on the boardwalk. Because the existing boardwalk stations are key to the network, the city will not move them.
Florida-based DecoBike signed a 10-year contract with the city of San Diego and spent $8 million setting up bike share infrastructure citywide. After more than a year of delays, DecoBike opened its first rental stations in January 2015.
During its first year of operations, DecoBike sold 102,641 rides and 697 memberships in San Diego, according to its annual report. Rides ranged from $5 for 30 minutes to a $125 annual membership.
By comparison, the bike share program Citi Bike in New York City sold almost 4 million rides and more than 85,000 memberships in the first three months after it opened in 2013.
Melinda Pederson, administrative manager for DecoBike San Diego, previously said the number of rides sold in San Diego is "lower than we would have liked” but added that is "not unusual for the first year of a bike-share program.”
Asked about rumors that DecoBike might be asking the city for a “bailout,” Pederson replied, “We have never asked for any such payment, nor do we intend to. Our agreement with the city is that we will privately fund the bike share program and they will allow us to install stations in the public right-of-way. They also allow us to install ad panels and sell ad space to offset the cost of running the system.”
Concerning the PB boardwalk stations, Pederson added, “They are very important to the bike share system. Those two stations consistently rank in our top five busiest stations, and there are no plans to move either of them.”
Pederson said, prior to installing the two boardwalk stations, that DecoBike revised its station plan in response to community concerns.
“We reduced the number of stations to be installed on the boardwalk, and we reduced the station size,” she said. “Unfortunately, I can't give you any specifics on upcoming installations just yet. We have been working very closely with the city to agree upon sites for the next phase of installation.
“The city has been meeting with local community groups to review locations and take their input into consideration as well. Once we have approval from the city on the new locations, we will make an announcement.
"We are optimistic about the future of the program and we are looking forward to launching the next phase of installation," said Pederson.
San Diego does not pay for the bike share program, but instead allows DecoBike to set up rental kiosks on city property. The city gets $25,000 from the company in the first year, and then either a portion of the company’s sales or an annual payment of up to $175,000 – whichever is higher – for 10 years.