Bike Nation Announces Nine Kiosks for First Rollout of Los Angeles Bike Share in April 2013

Bike Nation announces 9 "target stations" for the first of several installations of the Bike Nation bike share program. Over the next five years, Bike Nation promises 400 docking stations and 4,000 bikes. Assuming the city doesn't veto any of the tentatively approved installations, this is map is the first nine stations. Image: Bike Nation

In just under an hour, Bike Nation will publicly announce the nine locations for kiosks in its initial rollout of what is promised to be a massive bike share system for Los Angeles. Last April, Bike Nation promised a 400 kiosk, 4,000 bike bike share system to be installed in Downtown Los Angeles, Westwood, Venice and Hollywood in the next several years. The bike share company promised to invest $16 million in its system. An independent estimate from one of their competitors estimates that they could earn $40 million in revenue in the next decade.

Apparently, they’re starting the rollout in Downtown Los Angeles. That makes sense, since 175 of the promised stations will be in Downtown Los Angeles. As shown above, the first nine kiosks are planned for:

  • Union Station
  • El Pueblo/Olvera Street
  • Caltrans Building (2)
  • City Hall (2)
  • County Hall of Administration Building
  • LAPD (2)

“We are excited to put stations on the ground in Downtown Los Angeles and begin the process of rolling out our bike share program and providing a safe, low-cost, healthy transportation alternative to Los Angeles residents,” writes Derek Fretheim, Bike Nation Chief Operating Officer. “The Company has already begun its site planning in anticipation of the City Council Motion and created a sample permit package consisting of initial station locations.”

Rather than go through a standard “Request for Proposal” process as has been done with the other large bike share systems in America, Bike Nation gave Los Angeles another option. Bike Nation approached the mayor’s office with a simple proposal, if Los Angeles creates a permitting system to operate private bike share on public property, then Bike Nation would invest in creating a private bike share system.

Last week, the City Council unanimously passed a motion that directs staff to create a permit process for Bike Nation’s bike sharing stations to be placed in the public right of way. Bike Nation is currently working with the City of Los Angeles to navigate the new approval processes and permitting. The benefit of avoiding the RFP process is that the completely privately funded system is immune to attacks that it is “subsidized bicycle rental.” The bad news is that an RFP process provides many opportunities for the public to weigh in on where, and how, kiosks should be employed.

Bike Nation launched a website to gather cyclist feedback on where kiosks should be placed in August. Bike Nation staff emphasized that the website is still functional and they are still collecting ideas for future placement in Downtown Los Angeles. You can access the website by clicking here. If you have trouble using it, instructions can be found at Streetsblog’s story from August.

While the bike share company has yet to successfully install bike share, it has contracts with Anaheim, Long Beach and Los Angeles. The delays in installing Anaheim’s system, promised for earlier this year, has led some to question whether Bike Nation can pull off creating such a large system in Los Angeles.

Eric Bruins, the policy and program director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, hadn’t seen today’s announcement yet, but remains excited about the prospect of bike sharing for Los Angeles.

“Bikeshare is a huge leap forward for transportation in Los Angeles.  It’s going to transform mobility in the communities lucky enough to get stations and make quick trips across downtown as easy as can be.” writes Bruins.

“Over half of all trips are three miles or less and bikeshare is one of the easiest ways to help Angelenos leave their cars parked for these short trips within their neighborhoods.  We hope that all Angelenos will one day soon be able to benefit from bikeshare in their communities.”

Joining Bike Nation at the press event will be Clippers forward and bike activist Caron Butler and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Butler is a spokesperson for Bike Nation, has donated literally thousands of bicycles to inner-city youth and served as bike ambassador to the Crown Prince of Denmark on his majesty’s recent visit to Washington, D.C.

Butler will be announcing a new bicycle donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.

“I am happy to serve as Bike Nation Ambassador and today’s event is just one example of things to come,” says Butler. “Bicycling and youth fitness has been a passion of mine for many years now. I am excited that through this bike-sharing program people will have the opportunity to consider biking as a viable transportation option while also becoming more fit.”

  • Irwinc

    Successful bike share programs overseas tend to have plenty of bike stations in residential areas to enable people to ride to/from transit. I’m afraid with the kind of ad-supported business model, Bike Nation will only locate bike stations near high visibility commercial strips: i.e. Hollywood really = Hollywood Blvd, Westwood really = Westwood Blvd, Venice = Venice Blvd. When there should be bike stations on the side streets so people can ride it to Hollywood Blvd / Westwood Blvd / Venice Blvd to catch subway or bus.

    I hope I will be proven wrong and we will see bike stations installed in residential neighborhoods.

  • Some odd choices for those first stations. Union Station and Olvera Street (not mentioned here but listed in the press release) are across Alameda from each other, though a kiosk on the west side of La Plaza would make sense. Caltrans and the LAPD HQ are across the street from each other, and a two-minute walk from City Hall. Nothing at the Music Center, MOCA, the Central Library, LIttle Tokyo (also a Metro Rail stop), Pershing Square (also a Metro Rail stop), Grand Central Market, Chinatown (also a Metro Rail stop), or the food and bar scene along Spring St.

  • guest

    Looks like all these locations are publicly owned which makes sense. Regarding no RFP, working in the public sector I appreciate process, however this is an example of a pretty creative solution. If it is a failure there will be handwringing, but if it works, then it probably sped things up by at least 6 – 12 months.

  • Anonymous

    Why are all these stations located where there aren’t any residents?  How about some stations down Broadway, Spring, and Main between 4th and 7th St? How about along 7th St?

    A cluster of stations around City Hall seems like a waste of scant resources.

  • This looks like it’s basically going to be a beta test. Use Civic Center workers as guinea pigs to work out all the bugs and kinks, then go live with a polished system later in the year or in 2014 that serves the larger Downtown area.

  • calwatch

    Until I actually see stations in place, this is going to be vapor ware. Still, Union Station to the County Hall of Administration actually could be time competitive with the Red Line, especially if you are starting from Metrolink or the Gold Line. Instead of funneling through the maze of tunnels and having to dodge the two-way crowd of the turnstiles, plus waiting for a train, boarding it, and dodging crowds in the turnstiles coming back, you can just ride to your destination, relaxed and refreshed. 

  • terry dean

    so, we get bikes, but no safe place on the streets to ride them. am i missing something?

  • Capt

    First it was fall 2012. Then December 2012. Now April 2013. Why do they even bother announcing a launch date?

    I hope they don’t make future decisions about their business model or pricing based on the ridership from these initial stations. They are too close to each other.

  • I wouldn’t expect them to draw any conclusions based on the initial ridership. As I said before, this looks like it’s just a beta test to see how well the equipment works.

  • brudy

    I lived in Boston when they rolled out their bike sharing and IIRC a large percentage of the users of the system were workers who rode from various train stops to their jobs, so with the high concentration of employees there, I can see maybe why they’d start there.

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