Bike Sharing is Coming To Los AngelesApril 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Bike News, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
This past Sunday at CicLAvia, Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s announced plans for a bike share program that will put 4,000 bikes and 400 kiosks throughout the City. This will be the country’s second largest bike sharing network. Bike Nation USA, a start-up bike share company based in Southern California, will privately fund and operate the $16 million project. We think bike sharing can really bring a lot to the City and greatly increase the number of people who use bicycles, especially for short trips, and introduce both Angelenos and tourists to bicycling in Los Angeles.
Bike sharing can reduce automobile traffic, increase transit ridership and improve public health and the environment, but in order for bike sharing to thrive, we need to have a connected network of bike-friendly streets and strategically located docking stations. Currently Bike Nation plans to roll out their bike share system in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Playa del Rey, Westwood and Venice Beach with the next 12 to 24 months. These neighborhoods have the potential to support bike sharing, but currently lack complete on-street bicycle networks that safely link people to transit stops and major destinations. While we acknowledge the city has implemented more miles of bikeways then ever before there still remains a lot to be done.
Los Angeles is a city that is interlaced with multiple other cities. From Santa Monica to Culver City, and West Hollywood to Long Beach, we want to insure compatibility in bike share networks as these cities and others in our county consider their own bike share programs. According to Curbed LA, Metro is onboard to create a county-wide bike share plan, however, some cities may choose to go with a different bike share system. We believe that in order for bike sharing to be a success throughout Los Angeles, there needs to be good inter-jurisdictional coordination so a rider who picks up a bike on Main Street in Venice can drop it off at the future Colorado and 4th Street Expo Line stop in Santa Monica. Interjurisdictional coordination needs to be a priority and Bike Nation and other potential bike share companies that enter our region should be required to work together to ensure an integrated bike share system in our county.
We also want to make sure that advertising revenues don’t hinder the expansion of the system or dictate the placement of docking stations in areas likely to get higher media impressions over areas where there maybe higher bike share need, use, and good transit connectivity. This happened in the Washington, DC area when they first launched their system with Smart Bike.
Most importantly, LA’s bike share program must be one in which every Angeleno can feel safe and comfortable using and experience all the benefits that come with riding a bike. This means in addition to the City building out the bicycle infrastructure to support people of all experience levels riding on our streets, the system must be in good repair, easy to use, and convenient. After its inaugural year using a bike share program in 2011, Boulder reported that 45% of users ride a bike more frequently than they did before. By riding instead of driving, Boulder’s bike share participants are estimated to have spared the air of 104,000 pounds of carbon emissions saved 2,700 gallons of gasoline, and burned 4.4 million calories (or roughly 1257 pounds lost)! With a bike share program that is expected to be 36 times larger than Boulder, Los Angeles must work hard to design and implement a top-notch system to achieve even greater results. There is a lot to learn from cities and companies currently operating bike share systems and we hope both Bike Nation and the City of Los Angeles are looking closely at was has and has not worked in other cities.
Streetsblog is currently taking questions for the founder of Bike Nation, Nevin Narang and we encourage you to pose your questions on the comment section on both our websites. We have a lot of questions and are setting up meetings with leadership from Bike Nation and the Mayor’s office, to learn more about the roll out of bike share in Los Angeles. Our goal is to make sure that this immense and extremely important endeavor is implemented right. According to a bike share best practices study conducted by Metrolinx in Toronto, “The decision to invest in a bike share system does not guarantee the success of such a system.” We have high hopes for Bike Nation and bike sharing in Los Angeles. If planned right, the bike share program will not only be a success, but also help make the Los Angeles a better place for all people who bicycle.