Los Angeles will finally launch its first bike-share system this summer, as Metro rolls 1,000 shiny new bikes docked at 80 solar-powered stations.
By 2017, Metro plans to extend the program to Pasadena and connect with the city’s own Bike Share program, thereby implementing step-by-step a seamless regional Bike-Share system. The immediate plan is to bring the program to eight other communities for a total of 4,000 bicycles in ten LA County communities.
In June last year, Metro’s board decided to award a $11 million contract to Bicycle Transit Systems Inc. (BTS). The company and its partner BCycle were found to have the most industry experience and expertise, proven equipment and technology, and the greatest capability for immediate, on-time delivery of a large-scale multi-jurisdictional bikeshare system.
Bikesharing, designed for low-cost, point-to-point short trips using a for-rent fleet of bicycles, is a key transportation and first-mile-last-mile strategy that has already proved popular and successful in other major U.S. cities and around the globe, including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Montreal, London and Paris. With bikeshare, residents and visitors can pick up a bike at any station, ride to their destination, and drop off the bike at any open dock. The system will allow unlimited, short-term access to bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Metro’s Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan, also approved by the Board, shares capital, operations and maintenance costs with cities, ensuring the program’s financial viability moving forward.
According to Metro, the BTS/BCycle team will be able to provide the required number of bicycles and bicycle docking stations for the agency’s Downtown L.A. pilot program and program expansion. The firm already has one local distribution center in Ontario and a subsidary headquartered in San Diego County, and the L.A. system will create new jobs at these facilities, and more across LA county.
For Pasadena, the Metro bikeshare program is expected to jive with the City of Pasadena’s Bicycle Transportation Action Plan, where bikeways can be located in 12 miles of collector and arterial roadways in the city. Many of these were installed as part of the Foothill Freeway construction project in the early 1970’s.
Pasadena also offers parking for over 1,000 bicycles in the form of bicycle racks at bus stops, city-owned parking lots, churches, private office garages, local business and apartment buildings. To date, over 200 new bike racks have been added citywide to further promote bicycling.
The city also has a number of programs in place and planned for the near future that are designed to encourage bike riding and to make it safe for everyone. The month of May every year is Bike Month for Pasadena. A city-sponsored employer-based program encourages employers to provide incentives and facilities to make it easy for employees to ride their bikes to and from work.
The city has worked with organizations such as the Amgen Tour of California to highlight Pasadena as a great place to bike. In the near future the City will be hosting open street events similar to LA’s CicLAvia to promote biking and walking in the City.
The City also works with CICLE, a community-based organization that promotes the bicycle as a viable, healthy, and sustainable transportation choice, to provide bike education programs in Pasadena. Other programs being explored included safe-routes-to-schools programs, intended to provide elementary and middle school children the skills and knowledge necessary to safely navigate Pasadena’s streets by bicycle – or least home to school and back – on a regular basis.
LA Magazine estimate the costs for the bikeshare program to be affordable. With a $40 annual fee, a half hour will cost $1.75 – the same as a bus ride – though one-timers will pay $3.50. The dense structure of downtown L.A. is a bonus because it keeps auto speeds lower, and therefor safer for bikers.
To make the program even better, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is creating protected north-south lanes, which include a physical buffer separating cyclists and cars, on Main and Spring streets; similar projects are coming to Los Angeles Street and a stretch of Figueroa near USC. All of them should be completed by 2017.
“At that point we’ll be a lot closer to having an actual network of safe bike lanes downtown,” Eric Bruins, policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, tells LA Magazine.