Bike-sharing program beginning to gain traction
by Dave Schwab
Jul 26, 2013 | 10540 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city has approved a $7.2 million  bike-sharing program across the city. A survey is now taking place to determine locations.                   Courtesy photo
The city has approved a $7.2 million bike-sharing program across the city. A survey is now taking place to determine locations. Courtesy photo
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Now that the City Council has signed off on a new bike-sharing program that would allow residents of Ocean Beach and Point Loma — among other beach communities — to peddle between 180 or more bike stations with 1,800 bikes citywide, locals are being asked to chime in on the need and desirability of the program.

On July 8, the council sanctioned a 10-year contract with DecoBike, which will pay the estimated $7.2 million cost of setting up infrastructure for the BikeShare program, which is expected to begin in spring 2014.

“We support the idea of the bike-share program citywide and value the benefit it will provide in getting commuters to the beach area via alternative transportation,” said Sara Berns, executive director of Discover Pacific Beach.

But Berns expressed concern that the new bike-share program might compete with existing bike-rental businesses in Pacific Beach that serve tourists and locals.

“We have been working with, and look forward to, continued efforts by the city to work with us and the community to best implement the program in PB with these small-business owners in mind,” Berns said, adding the San Diego BID Council will host an educational and input forum on the bike-share program in Pacific Beach in mid-September at a date and place to be determined.

Officials from neighboring beach communities agree about the benefits, however.

“It’s a great opportunity to help solve the problem of how people can get around without using the car,” said Joe LaCava, vice president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which makes land-use recommendations to the city. “I think it will be a real addition, not only in La Jolla, but in the rest of San Diego.”

Colby Reese, chief marketing officer for DecoBike, said San Diego’s new bike-sharing program is modeled after a similar successful program in Miami’s South Beach.

Reese said bike sharing will create an interlocking network of stations linking downtown San Diego with outlying areas like North Park, Balboa Park and Hillcrest, as well as coastal areas like Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and La Jolla.

DecoBike has been conferring with the city to create a crowd-sourcing map pinpointing bike-share stations. That map will also be made available on www.decobike.com for San Diegans to suggest where they think bike-sharing stations ought to be considered.

“It will be just like using Google maps,” said Reese adding, “It’s a great way to get the public involved and also excited.

“Once the bike-share program is up and running sometime next spring, it will be 100 percent automated,” said Reese.

Users paying an annual membership of about $99 will be entitled to make unlimited trips with bikes in between stations they can access via electronic key.

Bike sharing will encourage more — and different — types of people to cycle, said Reese.

“We may create a whole new class of cyclists. People who haven’t ridden in years,” said Reese. “It will make people aware that cycling is no longer just for youths, that bikes are a viable option to commute to work or just go out and have fun, stay in shape or lose weight.”

Reese said San Diego’s “year-round outdoor climate” makes it a perfect place for bike sharing.
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