A much anticipated bike-share program will launch on Aug. 29, Bay Area air quality officials announced today, with a fleet of 700 bicycles at 70 kiosks in San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, Redwood City and Mountain View.
About 300 of the celeste-colored bikes have arrived at a San Francisco warehouse, where they will be tested before they roll out in a little more than two weeks, said Karen Schkolnick of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The remaining 400 are being shipped.
The heavy one-size-fits-all bikes have adjustable seats and were manufactured by the same Canadian company that designed bikes for systems in New York and Washington D.C. In San Francisco, the bikes will have GPS.
Last week, San Jose become the first city to install docking stations. Other stations were going up today in Redwood City, and San Francisco plans to begin installing its 35 stations next week, said Schkolnick. Each kiosk holds about 10 bikes.
Bike-share systems are designed for short bike trips. Stations will be centered around transit hubs and dense neighborhoods. Maps with locations for all of the planned stations will be available on the program’s website.
“Bike share empowers the public to get out of their cars, take transit and reduce transportation impacts on our region,” said Jack Broadbent, the air district’s executive officer.
Since memberships went on sale July 15, more than 500 people have signed up. But now that a launch date has been finalized, Schkolnick anticipates that number will rise.
It costs $88 for an annual pass, $22 for three days or $9 for a day. Each pass includes costs for the first 30 minutes of a trip, with surcharges on trips that exceed that time limit.
Though they are excited about the pilot, bike advocates have been critical of the program because it’s much smaller than systems in other U.S. cities. New York’s Citibike launched in May with 6,000 bikes at 300 stations.
“Unless you really have the coverage and the real density of the bike-share pods within a few blocks of each other, you really don’t see the bang for the buck,” Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said in a recent interview.
Air quality officials said they hope to expand the program to 1,000 bikes by early 2014, adding 300 additional bikes and 30 more docking stations.
“Our intention is to go ahead and start the pilot, and learn information from it, as well as see if there’s an opportunity to raise funds from the private sector to help us increase the pilot beyond the first 1,000 bikes,” said Schkolnick.