VOSD By Claire Trageser
Photo by Wayan Vota
A woman picks up a DecoBike bicycle at a bike sharing station in Miami.
San Diego’s bike sharing program was supposed to start between January and March of this year, but it was pushed back by a few months. Now the program has been delayed again, this time until June.
The bike sharing program lets people rent a bike from a checkout station, ride it wherever they please, and then return it to any other station.
People can pay $7 an hour or $15 a day for a bike, or buy a membership for between $20 and $30 a month. The Miami-based company DecoBike is running the program and will pay $7.2 million to install San Diego’s bikes and stations. The city pays nothing for the program and will get a chunk of its profits — between $1 million and $2.6 million over 10 years.
Bill Harris, a spokesman for the city’s storm water and transportation department, said stations will begin being installed in June and that the program will be fully set up by the end of the summer. He said he wouldn’t call the program delayed.
“The intention had been to start out in spring and issue the station locations and get the community feedback,” he said. “We started doing that a few months ago and accelerated that a month ago. So that’s not too far off track, if off track at all.”
Jennifer Kearns, the city’s director of corporate partnerships, said in January that the station location list would be released by mid-February and that the program would begin in late April or early May.
DecoBike posted a map of proposed station locations on its website last week. Harris said the city is collecting feedback on it and will update it slightly before releasing a final map next week.
A few stations are ready to install, but the city needs to set up a critical mass of stations at the same time so people have places to return their bikes.
“We don’t want to just drop one station and have to wait, drop another, have to wait, it has to be done so there’s a Point A to Point B arrangement,” Harris said.
The proposed map shows neighborhoods like City Heights and Point Loma have no bike-pickup spots. Residents of City Heights lobbied heavily for the program to reach their neighborhood, but Harris said they won’t get stations in this round.
“We have had a lot of people call and say that they’re anxious to get the stations,” he said. “In the first phase, DecoBike is going to be concentrating in the downtown and beach areas, because that’s where there’s a large concentration of potential riders and users. But as the program gets its wheels under it, it will be expanding to other areas of the city.”
DecoBike is designing three-speed shaft drive bikes specifically for San Diego, and showed them off at recent Earth Day and CicloSDias bike events, Harris said.
“(The bikes) are very well received,” he said. “We’ve had some tough crowds test them out.”
Harris said members of the San Diego County Bike Coalition tested the bikes, along with City Council President Todd Gloria and City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf.
Andy Hanshaw, the director of the bike coalition, said the bikes are good quality.
“They rode well, had the right amenities, like lights and baskets, so I was pleased,” he said.