Rental bike battle continues in coastal communities
Published - 10/18/16 - 03:08 PM | 15385 views | 3 3 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A surfer rides by a DecoBike station on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
A surfer rides by a DecoBike station on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
The battle between Pacific and Mission beaches and the city over two boardwalk bike share stations continues to rage, with both sides digging in and little or no apparent movement by either side toward a settlement.

Meanwhile, some beach small business owners catering to recreational bicyclists, like Matt Gardner, longtime owner of Cheap Rentals and Mission Beach Rentals at Belmont in Mission Beach, are crying foul. They are claiming their businesses continue to suffer from unfair competition.

“I've lost about $120,000 over two years,” insists Gardner adding, “I'm giving the city and DecoBike every chance to make it right.”

Making it right, according to Gardner, would mean “establishing a true commuter-friendly ride sharing network — or they recoup the money that's been taken away from me.”

Garner claims the lion's share of DecoBike rentals, as much 77 percent, is for recreational tourists, and not as the final leg of a commuter trip utilizing mass transit, for which the bike share network is intended.

The city signed a 10-year deal with DecoBike to set up bike rental kiosks on city property. Launched in January 2015 as a way to boost residential bike commuters, kiosks would also be a means of income because the city would share in a portion of the rental profits. The key to the deal was the minimal expense to the city, as the Florida-based DecoBike would foot the bill for the infrastructure.

Pacific Beach Planning Group chair Brian Curry said the city's reneging on the DecoBike deal.

“We continue to fight against further placement of any DecoBike kiosks in our visitor/hospitality district,” Curry said. “The City has broken its promise that its bike share program is intended to accommodate locals for point-to-point transportation such as commuting, shopping, etc. Instead, the City is pushing to install more kiosks in the coastal/beach corridors to capture business from visitors, and at significant cost to our local rental bike business owners.”

Curry noted that, “despite significant public opposition, the City refuses to remove the current kiosks on the boardwalk.” He said the city is supposed to come out with a new proposed station's location list shortly and has promised to allow for public outreach and comment.

Curry pointed out PB community leaders had at least five meetings with the City and DecoBike and were “ignored.”

“We hope this next round of interaction is constructive rather than a waste of time,” Curry said.

Approached by the Beach & Bay Press for further comment, Melinda Pederson, administrative manger for DecoBike San Diego, referred to a July statement the company made claiming the two boardwalk bike stations are essential to the success of its interlocking bike share network.

“Ridership revenue and advertising/sponsorship revenue are the only sources of income for the bike share,” Pederson said previously. “For this reason, it's very important that we have visible stations in desirable locations that generate high ridership.

“We do have quite a bit of local ridership,” Pederson continued. “Most riders, both visitors and locals, use the bike share for short trips purchased at the station.”

Mike Beltran, chair of Pacific Beach Planning Group's Traffic, Parking and Streets Subcommittee, concurred with Curry that the community is tiring of this boardwalk battle with the city.

“I get it that they're (DecoBike's) a business and that they need to make money,” Beltran said. “Our struggle is really with the city. They're the ones who gave DecoBike the key to the city to put their stations anywhere they want.”

Bike rental operator Gardner hopes there can eventually be an accommodation reached between the city and small-business owners like himself catering to recreational bicyclists.

“I love my city,” Gardner said. “The last thing I want is litigation. But if my own city is taking away my customers ...”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Concerned Resident
October 22, 2016
Please Sign this Petition Regarding DecoBikes:
Boardwalk Rider
October 22, 2016
As a Mission Beach resident I am of the opinion that the DecoBikes are not only unattractive and unsanitary but they really take away from the "beachy" feel that the local bike shops' beach cruisers add to the ambiance of the beach community. Honestly, I get an icky feeling every time I walk past one of those generic "stations". They just "feel" all wrong for our community. I get the sense, as I walk by them, that the energy behind those in charge of them is simply economically based. Really, no regard for their impact on our community. And, I have NOTHING to do with selling or renting bikes so I have no vested interest other than as a long-term beach community resident who would prefer local bike shops do the renting. I suggest someone start an online petition, FB page, etc. I'm sure it would fill up quickly...
October 20, 2016
Funny that the two bike shops who have been out to get Decobike since the start with their NIMBYism claim they've lost the same amount of money. Gardner in this article is claiming a loss of 120k over the past two years, in an August article claimed 60k over the past year. Granted it's the same amount over the period of a year, things still don't add up.

Is it also not odd that Decobike has only been operating in the area since late July of 2015? How can they blame Decobike for alleged losses before they were even available in the area? How do they explain the the fact 44 percent of those bike share trips were made outside of their limited business hours?

Bike share and these local bike rental shops are apples and oranges. It's comparing Car2Go to regular car rental. These local bike shops need to stop complaining and stop acting like martyrs. Your losses are caused by something else.

SD News needs to stop giving them free publicity.
Comments are back! Simply post the comment (it'll complain about you failing the human test) then simply click on the captcha and then click "Post Comment" again. Comments are also welcome on our Facebook page.