Three Years Later: Is L.A. Ready for Bike Share

The bike share program at Emory University asks the key question.

In September of 2008, Los Angeles was beginning to move towards creating a bike share system for Los Angeles.  It was a hot topic at the time after then City-Council Transportation Committee Chair and now Comptroller/Mayoral Candidate Wendy Greuel championed the idea after experiencing a successful temporary bike share program at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

There was only one problem…nobody else thought Los Angeles was ready for a bike share program.  Some thought that biking in L.A. was just too dangerous to encourage novice cyclists to rent a bicycle.  Others just thought there were more pressing infrastructure needs at the moment.  When I say nobody thought it was a good idea, I’m including leaders with the LACBC, Councilman Tom LaBonge, and even the LADOT (and especially the majority of Streetsblog readers in 2008.)

The LADOT simply wrote:

…the City still lacks a continuous network to accommodate bicycle use for the bike sharing program.

And that wast that.  Bike share has more than caught on nationally, just check out the roster of recent films at Streetfilms, but it hasn’t been a major issue here in the Southland outside of an occasional reference in a report or government document.

Until last week.

A motion by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Santa Monica Council Woman Pam O’Connor ordered Metro Staff to examine the possibilities of using Metro stations as bike share hubs. While L.A. has made some pretty impressive strides the last couple of years, the infrastructure on Los Angeles’ streets aren’t that much different than they were when Wendy Greuel was the bike share champion.  On the other hand, as city’s around the world try bike share, we’re discovering the benefits of a working system are pretty impressive.

So I ask you all again, is L.A. ready for a bike share program?  We’ll forward your messages on to Yaroslavsky, Villaraigosa and O’Connor.  We’ll also make sure to ask the city’s Deputy Mayor when he fills out our reader Q and A later this week.