Bike share programs in the Bay Area continue to expand, with the city of San Mateo launching one of its own on May 12.
Kathy Kleinbaum, senior management analyst, City of San Mateo, told an audience at the Silicon Valley Bike Summit back in August that they signed up 310 users in just three months.
The system is different from others in the Bay Area in that users have much greater flexibility on where they can park their bikes. Most system require leaving bikes in a designated area at all times, but San Mateo lets users park their bikes at any city sidewalk bike rack, and leave them. How it works.
Their system, along with a mobile app, was developed by Social Bicycles, based in New York City. The 50-bike pilot is scheduled to run for three years.
“We’re not expecting to recover costs from fees,” Kleinbaum said. “We hope to have a corporate sponsor.” She mentioned that Nike sponsors a bike share program in Portland, Ore.
Presently the city funds the program, but they also received a grant thanks to efforts by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Ford motor company recently agreed to finance a bike share program in the Bay Area. (Either it’s good PR or Ford plans to build electric bicycles.)
The city has 11 bike hubs around the city, mostly at transportation centers and office parks. “Right now bike commuters and office workers are the target, but we plan to expand to residential areas,” Kleinbaum said.
The cost is $5 per hour or $15 per month for an hour of use a day, cumulative. There’s an out of hub fee of $3, but a $3 credit if you take a bike from out of hub and bring it back. Bikes are restricted to the city of San Mateo.
It’s easy to set up an account online, where you can see what’s available. Kleinbaum said they track the bikes with GPS. “One rider goes out at three in the morning along the bay.”
“We would like to see this system adopted throughout the Bay Area,” she said. “The number one complaint is that the systems are different and require different memberships.”
She said a Clipper card can work on their system, technically, but needs to be implemented.
I’ve never used bike share, but I can envision situations where I’d want to. However, to be successful, the system needs to be as simple as possible. I’m talking really simple, like swiping a Clipper card or credit card and off you go.
Better yet, populate downtown areas with free bikes and be done with it.