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Santa Monica “Breeze” Bike Share Celebrates First Birthday
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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

November 14, 2016 -- Santa Monica’s first-of-its-kind bike share program celebrated its first birthday Saturday, with officials saying the $10-million “Breeze” program has been successful enough so far to possibly warrant enlarging it.

Breeze patrons have taken 285,000 trips on the program’s bright green, GPS-equipped “smart bikes” and logged more than 618,000 miles so far, the City said.

Santa Monica residents accounted for 47 percent of the total trips, said Constance Farrell, a City spokesperson.

Residents from elsewhere in the county accounted for 24 percent, and those outside the region made up 29 percent, she said.

The City’s goal is to reach 370,000 trips a year on Breeze bikes.

Santa Monica celebrated the first birthday for Breeze with free ride time and a community ride from the 17th Street Expo Station to Breeze headquarters at 1631 Colorado Avenue, as well as an open house and other festivities.

“Breeze’s first year has been very successful,” Farrell said. “The growth in ridership helps reduce vehicle congestion and provides a critical first/last mile connection to the new Expo Line and the Big Blue Bus.”

Since its debut, Breeze has expanded to add 12 stations to the system, she said. It now offers 500 state-of-the-art bicycles at 85 stations in Santa Monica and Venice, she said.

Breeze had logged 43,000 renters at the one-year mark, paying either through annual, monthly or student rates or on a pay as you go basis, Farrell said.

After years of planning and debate, Santa Monica broke new ground with Breeze, the first public bike share program to start in a sprawling region -- the nation's second most populous -- that is well known for worsening gridlock on freeways and city streets.

But the list of other cities starting bike share programs is growing.

Long Beach got rolling in March with a bike share system that is to include 500 powder blue hi-tech bikes and 50 stations when it reaches its goal.

Beverly Hills started a 50-bike operation in May. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority began plans for a countywide bike share system in downtown Los Angeles in July, which has since totaled 74,126 trips and 194,902 miles traveled, Metro’s website said.

WeHo Pedals, the bike share system for West Hollywood, debuted with 150 bikes and 20 stations in August.

The UCLA campus starts rolling with 130 bikes and 16 kiosks, including two in Westwood Village, next spring.

Eastward, Pasadena is expected to launch a bike-share operation next summer.

Bike share programs are designed to bridge the “first mile, last mile” gap between transit stations and final destinations.

The success of Breeze, Metro’s new Expo Light Rail lines, taxi newcomers such as Lyft and Uber, municipal buses and walking are key to Santa Monica’s vision of adding new development -- especially new multi-family housing -- without creating more congestion or pollution, City officials have said.

Start-up costs for Breeze have been about $10 million, with much of it coming from grant money, plus a $675,000 annual sponsorship for five years from Hulu, the Santa Monica-based internet entertainment service ("Santa Monica’s “Breeze” Bike Share Program Gets Big Name Sponsor," October 15, 2015).

In July, the program’s $1.3 million operating costs, minus outside funding, still left the City with a shortfall ("Santa Monica Bike Share Program Draws Riders, Still in Red," July 29, 2016).

Farrell said Santa Monica is currently “exploring adding and expanding stations in some neighborhoods."

It is also assessing if it needs to expand the Breeze fleet and add to City outreach and education campaigns, she said.

At the same time, Santa Monica is continuing to try to integrate Breeze with the Westside’s other new bike-share systems, she said.

Farrell said Breeze now also offers reduced rates for residents living in affordable housing through Community Corporation of Santa Monica.

Reduced rates are also offered for employers willing to purchase bulk memberships for employees. The City participates in these programs as well, she said.

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