By Jason Islas
July 6, 2012 -- Thanks to a $2.6 million grant, Santa Monica will have a citywide bike share program three years ahead of schedule, according to City officials.
The City Bike Action Plan called for putting the program in place by 2016, but with the Metro grant on the way and with the neighboring areas making their streets more accessible to bikes, the program should be up and running before the end of next year, officials said.
“We thought it was very important to have it in place before the light rail,” said Francie Stefan, the City's community and strategic planning manager, referring to the Expo Light Rail line scheduled to reach Santa Monica in 2016.
“City-wide bike share will be a great resource for residents, for workers, and for visitors,” she said.
The Metro grant, which totals $2.6 million after the City’s contribution, calls for 250 bikes to be placed in up to 25 locations around the city.
The Bike Action Plan identifies 13 locations where bike share stations could be installed, including each of the three Expo stations in Santa Monica, the Pier, in public parking structures, in Pico Boulevard commercial areas and at Santa Monica College.
There could be fewer than 25 stations, said Stefan, because more bikes may be placed in “high volume locations.”
The details still need to be worked out, she said. The City will hold community meetings to determine locations and work out the details of the program.
The City plans to issue a Request for Proposal from bike share companies who would want to run Santa Monica’s program by the end of the year.
It’s still unclear what the program would cost users and if there would be a membership fee, or if users would pay to use the bikes for a certain period of time.
Stefan did say, however, that most bike share programs in North America usually operate on a membership basis. Those who want access to the bikes pay an annual membership fee, which allows them a half-hour to 45 minutes before they have to return the bike to a kiosk.
After that, members are usually charged for extra time.
Though, she said, it’s too early to know if that’s how Santa Monica’s bike share program would work.
Two things are needed to make a bike share program a success: Infrastructure to make biking more comfortable and a wide variety of users who would benefit from having access to short-term bike use, Stefan said.
Santa Monica, she said, has both.