Bay Area Bike Share Makes First Strides

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The bike rentals are run by Alta Bicycle Share and are available in half hour increments, although the number of increments is unlimited. Passes can be purchased on-line or at any of the bike kiosks for a 24-hour ($9) or three day ($22) access. Yearly memberships can be purchased as well, and it costs $88 (or $99 if one choses to pay in monthly installments of $8.25). While the amount of times one can take out a bike is unlimited, the time limit is set firmly at thirty minutes with a seven dollar late fee for every half hour that the bike is overdue. In fact, the Bay Area Bike Share Web site urges people who want to take extended bike trips to visit local rental shops and rent a bike for the day.

[contextly_sidebar id=”52c3619d1041663adfbdd94889f9aaf1″]“People seem to be pretty good about returning them so far,” says Christopher Howe, a resident of San Jose who bought his membership the first week of the program. “There always seems to be plenty of people using them but also plenty of bikes available, so I guess it’s working.” Howe, a chef and new comer to the Bay Area, had sworn off cars years ago. “We live in an area that has good weather year round. People always find excuses to drive even the shortest distances. I think this will combat those excuses.”

While it is a convenience, there are some issues with the locations of the kiosks. In most of the areas, the kiosks are clustered close together. In San Jose, the kiosks are mainly around the San Jose University Campus. In San Francisco, the financial district is packed with them but there are very few locations beyond that. “We’re still learning the movement patterns for the bikes,” says Borrman. “We need to see how it does, and we’re already planning on expanding.” On the Bay Area Bike Share Web site, the location maps show the availability of both the bikes and the docks that people return them to and many of them are being emptied out consistently.

The existing 70 kiosks are typically placed around Caltrain and the higher density downtown areas of each city. In San Francisco and San Jose, where most of the kiosks are located, the concentration is around the central core of city; Financial District in San Francisco and downtown San Jose and the San Jose State University.

Borrman says the next step is working with businesses in these cities that are looking to attract people or help with sponsorship. “We want to reach out to partners in the Bay and see who’s interested in working with us,” he says. “Once we have more data on the usage, we’ll be able to do more work with local business owners.”

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