Metro Bike-Share Opens July 7, Mobility Advocates Team up for Equity

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Metro Bike Share debuts next week. Photo via Allison Mannos

Southern California’s largest bike-share system, Metro Bike Share, debuts next week!

Metro Bike Share will feature 1,000+ bicycles at 65+ docking stations in downtown Los Angeles. Starting July 7, Metro Bike Share will only be available to pass holders who sign up in advance. On August 1, the bike-share system will open to walk-up customers. The system is expected to expand to Pasadena in 2017, and additional L.A. County locations in the future. Metro Bike Share is operated by the Philadelphia-based vendor Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS).

At 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 7, Grand Park will host a bike-share kick-off celebration. The event will feature speakers, free snacks, and music. At the conclusion, riders will hop on bikes and ride to distribute them to bike-share docks throughout the system. Register for the kick-off via Eventbrite; RSVP and share via Facebook event.

Metro's proposed bike-share fare strucutre. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]
Metro’s Bike Share cost to users. Image via Metro
Under Metro’s bike-share fare policy, riders can purchase a $20 unlimited Monthly Pass which covers all 30-minute rides with no per-ride cost. Alternately, less frequent system users can purchase a $40 annual Flex Pass, the pay $1.75 per trip. Walk-up use, which begins August 1, costs $3.50 per ride. For low-income riders, students, and seniors, bikes are available for the Flex Pass cost of $1.75 for up to 30 minutes usage, with no $40 annual fee. Correction: student and senior discount fares are approved, but at a later phase, not available initially. Sign up via the Metro Bike Share website.

The first 1000 riders who sign up for Metro Bike Share will receive a special membership kit including commemorative pins and TAP card.

Metro Bike Share will be L.A. County’s first smart-dock system. Existing systems in Long Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and (expected to debut this summer) West Hollywood, are all smart-bike systems. For those who have never used a bike-share docking system, watch Metro’s instructional video for basic instructions.

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Map of bike-share stations in Downtown L.A. Note that this is a screen-shot, for an up-to-date map go to Metro Bike Share’s dynamic system map.

Bike-share docks have been appearing around downtown Los Angeles, and on social media. There are docks every few blocks from Chinatown to Union Station to the Arts District to L.A. Trade Tech College to Staples Center and in between.

One exciting aspect of the new bike-share system is that Metro is working to make it as accessible as possible to low-income riders. In addition to discounted costs for students, seniors, and those of lower-income and TAP card integration, Metro has teamed up with Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) and the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) on a $100,000 program to make sure bike-share serves low-income riders. The program is funded by a $75,000 grant from the national Better Bike Share Partnership, with $25,000 in matching funds from Metro.

Generally bike-share systems have not served the mobility needs of very low income people, especially folks who do not have credit cards. MCM’s Maria Sipin states that “MCM recognizes that existing bikeshare systems have not been readily accessible to low-income communities of color, and this system can operate differently. MCM is committed to working with our partners to ensure that low-income communities of color transform this bike share system into one that promotes equity for all.” 

According to a statement from MCM’s Anisha Hingorani and Sipin and LACBC’s Tamika Butler, the organizations will

lead a team of bicycle safety educators, outreach specialists and researchers to conduct bike safety trainings, presentations and provide materials in English and Spanish to facilitate discussion among community members, and gather feedback about experiences with the system and barriers to use.

Our activities are designed to identify how Metro can improve its bike share service to meet the needs of low-income communities of color and recommend improvements to Metro for the system to better serve more Angelenos.

According to Hingorani, one specific focus of engagement will be downtown’s service worker stakeholders.

The grant activities are underway already and will continue through May, 2017. If readers are interested in volunteering to help make the MCM and LACBC bike-share engagement process a success, please contact Butler at Tamika[at]la-bike.org for more information and to sign up.

Volunteer DTLA Bike Ambassadors will work alongside bilingual English-Spanish outreach professionals to conduct surveys and invite community members to share their thoughts on the accessibility of bike-share.

MCM and LACBC are interested in potentially expanding the grant into the future and to go beyond Spanish and English to, per Hingorani, “serve all of our communities’ languages.”

Readers, what do you think? Are you excited about Metro Bike Share? How can Metro, BTS, LACBC, and MCM ensure that L.A. County bike-share systems better serve low-income communities of color? Will DTLA walkability be an issue? What are you looking forward to? What concerns do you have?

 

  • SpikeNLB

    $3.50 for a 1/2 hour. Dash only cost 50 cents.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I guess it depends where a person is heading. If my destination is near a DASH stop that doesn’t require a transfer, I’d probably use the DASH. Otherwise, if the weather is nice, I might use the bike share.

  • Exactly zero stations in Skid Row. I guess equity has its limits. This is cool though. The Long Beach system works well. Maybe bike share will start to be viewed as a normal part of a city’s transportation system. I hadn’t even heard of it as a concept until pretty recently.

  • Jason

    I don’t really understand who the flex pass is for. I also don’t understand why there’s no annual equivalent of the 30 day pass but I guess it’s fine as long as they let you set it up to auto-renew, otherwise the pricing for that makes sense. Overall this is much better than Santa Monica’s pricing but all of them don’t seem to quite get how to price these.

    People want to just have it for a reasonable price and not have to think much about it beyond that. You can tell the people at Santa Monica’s especially don’t get it because they tried to sell it as “no worrying about whether you’re at 31 minutes”. Except…I can keep track of a single ride’s time much better than I can keep track of whether my ride in the morning was 27 or 29 minutes, for purposes of figuring out how much time I have left that day.

    Is there any sort of grace period like you get in DC for when you ride up to a full dock?

  • nexzeus4g

    will metro leave some of the dock spaces open for people who are arriving with a metro bike from a different location? If not, you could end up having to ride to a different location(s) further from your destination just to drop off a bike.

  • SpikeNLB

    Hobos got no credit cards.

  • Joe Linton

    Yes – the operator (Bicycle Transit Systems) is responsible for re-balancing. In other cities the operator drives vans around and takes bikes away from full stations and puts them in empty stations.

  • Irwin Chen

    But you may have to wait for the DASH, which could be 30 seconds or 30 minutes… Think of bike share as on-demand transit – you pay a premium for the on-demand nature (e.g. taxi or uber also cost more than bus)

  • I find it laughable that people are expecting that a bike-share system going into one of the most obviously gentrifying parts of the city and that costs twice as much as LA Metro’s buses to use would somehow be a system that is used by low-income residents of the city. LA would do well to just drop the façade now so that when a report comes out in a couple months showing that surprise surprise, the average user is whiter, maler, and more affluent than the population of the city as a whole, even just of existing bicyclists, no one is shocked.

  • Alex Brideau III

    The Flex Pass is for me, I guess, because that’s the one I signed up for! My reasoning is that it seemed like the $40 annual cost was worth the half-off rate. Plus, I’d like to get first crack at the system. The à-la-carte plan doesn’t offer that and the monthly plan seems too expensive. Of course, I’ll need to monitor my usage a year from now to see if I want to stay on the Flex Plan.

  • Alex Brideau III

    The Flex Pass is for me, I guess, because that’s the one I signed up for! My reasoning is that it seemed like the $40 annual cost was worth the half-off rate. Plus, I’d like to get first crack at the system. The à-la-carte plan doesn’t offer that and the monthly plan seems too expensive. Of course, I’ll need to monitor my usage a year from now to see if I want to stay on the Flex Plan….

  • Serena Liu

    It gives you options. =)

  • Alex Brideau III

    Near my office, more bikeshare docks were installed than I thought would be needed. I assume that’s to intentionally keep some empty for returns. That said, if/when I encounter a totally full set of docks, I wonder what my options will be. (FWIW, I believe Santa Monica’s Breeze bikeshare allows me to just use the onboard U lock to lock to any available public bike rack, so that’s something.)

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