Skip to content

Posts from the Bike Sharing Category

1 Comment

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton on KCRW’s Press Play Today


KCRW’s Press Play news round-up airs daily at noon. Image via KCRW

Streetsblog Editor Joe Linton appeared on KCRW radio’s Press Play with Madeline Brand today at 12:45 p.m.

Host Madeline Brand interviewed Linton and City of West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath about bike-share programs, bike safety, and Idaho stop laws.

West Hollywood is implementing a 150-bike bike-share system, coming Spring 2016. WeHo’s “smart-bike” system, like Santa Monica’s, is not fully compatible with Metro and the city of Los Angeles’ 1,000-bike “smart-dock” system in the works for downtown Los Angeles, expected Spring, 2016.

The Idaho Stop Law has been a hot issue recently in San Francisco. In 1982, Idaho adopted a law that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields. A 2010 study showed that the law improved safety. The law does not allow cyclists to recklessly blow through stop signs, but permits them to slow, check for traffic, and proceed cautiously, without coming to a full stop.

The interview is available here (at about minute 45), the direct link will also be in tomorrow’s “Today’s Headlines” post.


Metro Bike-Share Update: 2016 Opening On Track, With No Title Sponsor

Preview of what Metro bike-share bikes will look like when they arrive in downtown L.A. in mid-2016. Image via Metro staff report

Preview of what Metro bike-share bikes will look like when they arrive in downtown L.A. in mid-2016. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

A few new bike-share details emerged at yesterday’s Metro Planning and Programming Committee meeting. Overall, Metro bike-share is on track to open in mid-2016 in downtown Los Angeles with 1000+bikes at 60+kiosks.

The bike-share item before the committee was just a receive and file update [PDF], with no action taken.

Metro published a request for proposals for bike-share title sponsorship in July. No sponsors submitted proposals by the late-August deadline, so system implementation is planned to proceed without a title sponsor. Metro staff are arranging for a contract modification to bring their bike-share vendor, Bicycle Transportation Systems (BTS), in to assist with procuring sponsorship. After boardmember Sheila Kuehl stressed the need that a sponsor be “suitable,” Metro staff clarified that BTS would provide technical assistance, but selection of a sponsor would ultimately be up to Metro.

Staff clarified that lack of a title sponsor would not impact the initial roll-out in 2016, but leaves some questions over where continuing Metro funding would come from.

One of the key questions facing Metro is “interoperability.” With Santa Monica opening its Breeze bike-share this year, Metro’s board and others have been pressing to make multiple local systems as easy as possible for riders to use.  Read more…


Open Thread: Yup, Bike-Share Is Coming

metro bike share

Photo: Metro

Friday, the City Council formally agreed with Metro to bring over 1,000 bike-share bikes to Downtown Los Angeles as soon as “sometime in 2016.” The cost of the system will be split between Metro (35%) and the City (65%). Proceeds from naming rights will go to Metro, and advertising from the bikes and kiosks to Los Angeles. If successful, bike-share will spread to North Hollywood, Hollywood, Venice, and elsewhere.

Of course, there are some issues. Santa Monica, Long Beach, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills have all chosen a different bike-share provider, with a different technology and different fee-collection system. Santa Monica’s Breeze system is currently testing a limited pilot, with the full program going online in November. This means that people visiting attractions in Hollywood or the beach areas could be faced with trying to decipher two different systems. Hopefully, Metro will be able to adapt its TAP card to work for both bike-share systems to reduce the confusion.

But the good news is: it’s official. From Wendy Greuel’s vision in 2008 to the debacle with Bike Nation, Los Angeles took the long road to bike-share. But we’ve emerged with a contract, plan, and timeline to bring bike-share to Los Angeles.

Do you have any thoughts on the plan or suggestions for Metro/L.A. City? Leave them below.

No Comments

Eyes on the Street: Breeze Bike Share Is Operational in SaMo

One of seven bike-share hubs that are part of Breeze bike-share's month-long test run. (Photos by Jason Islas/Santa Monica Next)

One of seven bike-share hubs that are part of Breeze bike-share’s month-long test run. This hub serves City Hall. (Photos by Jason Islas/Santa Monica Next)

Los Angeles County’s first public bike-share system has begun testing this week in Santa Monica. Seven test hubs with a total of 31 bikes have been set up around the city. CycleHop, the company running the system, has recruited about 80 founding members as test users* to try out the bikes over the next month.

The test run, which started on August 13, will run until September 13. The full 500-bike, 80-station system is on schedule to go live in November. CycleHop is still accepting test riders through August 31. If you have already purchased a founding membership and are interested in being a test rider, email

Here’s a map of the seven test hubs.

Bike-share hubs

They are located near the city’s major bike routes. There’s one at City Hall, one at 4th Street and Arizona, and another at Broadway and Cloverfield. There are two on 16th Street, at Arizona Avenue and at Montana Avenue.

There is also one on Main Street and Ashland Avenue, near the Venice border, and another at Cloverfield Park.

Since the Breeze is a “smart-bike” system, all the technology is located on the bike, which means it does not require a docking station to be locked up.

As a result, you may see Breeze bikes tethered at various locations throughout the city where there is no designated hub.

You may even see CycleHop’s all electric redistribution vehicle, the first of its kind in the U.S. bike-share world. The vehicle is used for rebalancing the distribution of bikes should one area end up with too many or too few bikes.

Once the full system is up and running, locking a bike outside of a hub area (within a 100 feet) will result in a $2 fee.

Returning a bike to a hub area can get you a $1 credit, though. Read more…


Metro Bike-Share Transit Integration and Pricing: What Do You Think?

Metro bike-share demo in DTLA. Photo via The Source

Metro bike-share demo in DTLA. Photo via The Source

There is a great new report out that shows that bike-share systems really are legitimate, full-fledged transportation facilities. The focus of the report is how bike-share interacts with other transit systems. The report is summarized in this excellent CityLab article. Researchers surveyed bike-share users in both Washington DC and Minneapolis. Bike-share users living in central city areas used transit less, because bike-share trips replace short transit trip in denser core areas. Bike-share users further from the core reported an increase in transit usage, reflecting bike-share’s role in solving the first last mile connection to transit.

Metro boardmembers, Laura Nelson at the L.A. Times, and Yonah Freemark at The Tranport Politic have all made the case that Metro’s regional bike-share system will offer a high level of integration between transit and bike-share. As Freemark puts it:

Though late, L.A.’s proposal could be a model for a new type of bike sharing. Not only will the system be operated by the county transit agency Metro (most systems are operated by city departments of transportation or independent groups), but it could also be tightly integrated into the transit system by allowing people to transfer directly from buses and trains to bikes—definitely a first.

I am getting a reputation as a bike-share contrarian these days, but I am not so invested in “tight integration” between bike-share and transit being a top priority. If it is a choice between, say, decent integration vs. bikes on the ground two months sooner, I would have to go with getting bikes on the ground.

It’s not entirely clear to me how tight integration of transit and bike-share should work.

Locate bike-share kiosks at Metro stations? Of course.

Integrate TAP fare card with checking out a bike? Maybe.

I do not see TAP integration as a straightforward easy task. Read more…

No Comments

Metro Board July Updates: Joint Development, Bike-Share, and More

Today’s monthly Metro Board of Directors meeting saw the chair transition from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Incoming Chair Ridley-Thomas expounded on his priorities for the current fiscal year. The July board meeting did not feature any major controversies, but there are a number of items likely to be of interest to SBLA readers.

Expo phase 2 test train. Photo via Santa Monica Next

Expo phase 2 test train. Photo via Santa Monica Next

Rail Lines Opening 2016: Metro CEO Phil Washington gave a brief update on the status of the extensions of the Gold and Expo Lines. Both of these projects are nearing completion. They are both being built by Construction Authorities, who will finish their work, then turn the project over to Metro for testing and, then, operation. Washington reported that Gold Line Foothill Extension construction is expected to be complete in September, while Expo Phase 2 construction is expected to be complete in mid- to late-October.

Bike-Share: With bike-share opening in Santa Monica, downtown L.A. and Long Beach this fiscal year, and other places interested, Metro is still working out if and how the agency needs to enforce or incentivize interoperability. Differences were evident in the debate at last month’s board meeting.

County Supervisor Don Knabe strung together multiple apt cliches urging Metro not enforce bike-share vendor conformity in a “my way or the highway” approach because “one size does not fit all.” Garcetti, on the other hand, asserted that a single countywide system “funds well,” meaning that it could attract lucrative countywide advertising sponsorship. Duarte City Councilmember John Fasana expressed “misgivings” over the current two-vendor implementation underway, suggesting that he thought it might be better for Metro to “buy out” systems being implemented by Long Beach and Santa Monica.

Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian pointedly asked Metro staff how cities like his should approach implementing bike-share, asking if Glendale should “refrain from an RFP (Request for Proposals)?” Staff recommended cities contact Metro, pursue funding together, and work things out on a case-by-case basis.  Read more…

No Comments

Bike-Share Round-Up: Multiple Motions At Tomorrow’s Metro Board Meeting

Metro bike-share vendor Bicycle Transit Systems has a new L.A. webpage. Image via

Metro bike-share vendor Bicycle Transit Systems has a new L.A. webpage. Image via

Last month, after a fairly lengthy debate, the Metro Board of Directors approved an $11 million contract to bring bike-share to downtown Los Angeles. Though there is a lot of interest in bike-share on the Metro board, there is not a lot of agreement on exactly how to move forward.

Though Metro bike-share, run by vendor Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS), will begin in Downtown Los Angeles, multiple future phases are planned, but not yet fully approved nor funded. Elected officials are doing their job, jockeying to make sure future bike-share phases will serve areas they represent. Santa Monica and Long Beach already moving ahead under contracts with a different vendor, Cyclehop, so there are also questions about inter-operability.

Below is a brief run down of the latest in the multi-faceted world of L.A. County bike-share systems. There are already a lot of moving pieces, and there is yet to be any live bike-share bikes on the ground. Bike-share may get less complicated when the bikes arrive and Angelenos can see and experience how bike-share really works:

> In Metro bike-share news: Metro’s full board of directors will meet tomorrow and decide on a handful of follow-on motions Read more…


After Contentious Discussion, Metro Board Approves Bike-Share Contract

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego bike-share, which is operated by Bicycle Transit Systems. Today the Metro board approved its bike-share contract, bring a 1,000-bike system to DTLA in 2016.  Image via Streetfilms

This morning, the Metro Board of Directors approved its $11 million contract with Bicycle Transit Systems to install and operate a pilot downtown L.A. bike-share system. The downtown system is expected to debut in 2016 with 60+stations and 1,000+bicycles.

The road getting this far has been a bit messy. The cities of Santa Monica and Long Beach got out ahead of Metro, with Santa Monica’s 500-bike “Breeze” bike-share system opening this summer. When Metro got up to speed, it pushed new rules that isolate the Santa Monica system, and discourage its expansion into nearby jurisdictions. This triggered a rift between Westside leaders and Metro, evident in this editorial.

Today’s discussion was the longest and most contentious of any bicycle-related items ever before the Metro board, with four different directors offering amendments. A few of the amendments were relatively tame, including directing consideration of additional docking stations at Mariachi Plaza and the Expo/Vermont Station, moved by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas, respectively. However,Inglewood Mayor James Butts, who was elected to the Board by government leaders in the Westside and South Bay, introduced a multi-part amendment that included delaying bike-share contract approval for five months. In addition, Butts’ motion directed Metro to meet and work closely with other cities, mainly Santa Monica and Long Beach, each of which is moving forward with separate bike-share systems.

Discussion ensued, with directors expressing concerns over multiple bike-share systems being quicksand, cannibalized, and balkanized. Electeds from in and near Santa Monica and Long Beach expressed strong concerns. County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Long Beach, portrayed Metro’s approach as “my way or the highway.”

Ultimately, L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti negotiated an amended motion accepting portions of Butts’ proposal, but not delaying contract approval. Even with the negotiated solution, Knabe continued to press to delay bike-share approval for one month to work out final language. Read more…


Opinion: Let Bike-Share Flourish in DTLA, Santa Monica, and Long Beach

The city of Santa Monica's bike-share system "Breeze" is expected to go live this fall.

The city of Santa Monica’s “Breeze” bike-share system “Breeze” expected to go live this summer. Photo: Santa Monica Next

Earlier this week, we ran an editorial by Assemblymember Richard Bloom with other Westside elected officials calling on Metro to “delay its decision” on a 1,000-bike bike-share system slated to open in downtown Los Angeles in early 2016. Metro has the bike-share contract on its board meeting agenda for today; it was approved by Metro’s planning committee approved last week.

It’s my hope that my editorial today might be able to play a small role in bridging the rift between Metro and these Westside leaders – allowing multiple bike-share systems to thrive. I urge the Metro Board to approve its bike-share system today. I fully expect that a year from now, we’ll have flourishing bike-share systems running in Long Beach, Santa Monica, and downtown L.A.

Bike-share is great. It works in hundreds of cities all over the planet. As Metro Boardmember and L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin stated, it’s “long overdue” for L.A. County. There is a broad consensus on this. Elected officials, cities, agencies, and the public all want it.

Early poorly-planned attempts failed to bring bike-share to the city of L.A. By fall of 2013, Santa Monica had already approved moving forward with bike-share. Soon after, Mayor Eric Garcetti and others directed Metro to lead efforts toward a regional bike-share system. Despite Metro pressure to delay, Santa Monica moved forward with its 500-bike system, debuting next month. Santa Monica’s “Breeze” system is largely funded via Metro’s Call for Projects. Long after Santa Monica got things underway, and probably partially in reaction to Santa Monica’s initiative, Metro pulled together its plans and initial funding. In late 2014, Metro initiated its vendor selection process for a downtown L.A. pilot. Last week’s committee meeting included not only the Metro DTLA pilot but also new “Interoperability Objectives” guidelines [PDF] that would, in effect, force all new L.A. County bike-share under a one-size-fits-all Metro umbrella.

Santa Monica and Long Beach bike-shares selected vendor CycleHop, a “smart bike” system. Metro selected Bicycle Transit Systems, a “smart dock” system. These systems are not compatible, not “interoperable.” No rider will be able to check out a bike in Santa Monica, and ride it ten miles to downtown L.A. and dock the bike there. But then again, bike-share bikes are for short hops; they’re bulky and not really suited to 10-mile trips anyway. In the event that the service areas expand over time, which they will, some day there will be a need for interoperability – whatever form that takes – but the need now is to get these systems implemented and get on-the-ground experience.

Bloom’s editorial states that Metro’s smart docks are “old technology” and Santa Monica’s smart bikes are “cutting edge.” In her testimony last week, L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds emphasized that all bike-share systems are “very much a start-up.” Start-ups are risky. If other cities’ bike-share implementation experience is telling, it’s possible that one or both of these these companies will experience hiccups. This could mean delays, supply issues, or worse. At this early stage, I think it will be beneficial to have multiple systems would operate within L.A. County, just in case one system has problems. There may even be new technology right around the corner, too, so it just doesn’t make sense to put all our eggs in one countywide basket today.

Here’s what I’d like to see in bike-share’s near future:

  • The DTLA, Long Beach, and Santa Monica systems all get underway, with bikes on the ground in the year ahead.
  • Each of these systems gradually expands to contiguous and nearby areas. (Councilmember Bonin and LADOT are supportive of expanding Santa Monica’s Breeze system into Venice; an initial roll-out plan includes three stations in the city of Los Angeles and more Breeze stations throughout L.A.’s Westside makes sense. Metro’s DTLA system expands into Pasadena and Hollywood.)
  • Metro supports all bike-share systems that meet a minimum standard, but not set up restrictive one-size-fits-all rules.
  • Service coverage grows over the next 5-10 years to the point where we have the “problem” of further integrating a small handful of excellent local bike-share systems.

The scenario I most fear is that the Westside electeds get their way, delaying Metro bike-share today. Then Metro could retaliate, isolating Santa Monica’s fledgling system. Instead of having two or three or more functional bike-share systems, we could end up with none.

I urge the Metro Board to approve Metro bike-share, and urge all parties to work together respectfully to continue to expand bike-share coverage throughout the county.


Guest Opinion: Metro’s Proposal on Bike-share Heads in the Wrong Direction

The city of Santa Monica's bike-share system "Breeze" is expected to go live this fall.

The city of Santa Monica’s bike-share system “Breeze” is expected to go live this year. Photo via Santa Monica Next

Greater Los Angeles is about to join cities and regions around the world that have implemented bike-share programs. But, in our complicated world of 88 cities and a county, will we get it right?

Bike-share provides residents and visitors with easily accessible, shared, short-term bikes, making it easy to get from point A to point B, whether or not those points are within a single city.

Bike-share has proven successful throughout the world. Residents like bike-share and it’s good for business and tourism. Our environment benefits, too: it’s a carbon-free mobility alternative for congested cities. Bike-share extends the reach of rail, bus, walking and carpool trips, increasing the efficiency of our public transportation system.

Thoughtful, coordinated planning is essential to make sure Bike-share works. Bike-share systems commonly span multiple jurisdictions. In every corner of the world, this has meant building truly integrated systems that are interoperable and have common characteristics, no matter where the bike or docking station is located. So, if you are visiting a friend in Venice, and want to shop on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, then take the coming Metro Expo Line to Culver City, you should be able to do so by accessing one brand of bike and using one, easy to understand, payment system.

Seems obvious. But, Metro planners are advising their board to approve technology that is incompatible with systems already chosen and underway in Santa Monica, Long Beach and, likely to be implemented in other Westside cities. Departing from best practice, Metro is recommending a very different technology that will require two, parallel, systems. This is a bad deal for taxpayers and users alike. In a regional system that must mesh, Metro has failed to explain how these two systems would do so. Instead, they are deferring that discussion until after Metro selects a vendor which necessarily will be incompatible with existing Bike-share programs which are already operating in the region.

Metro staff seems comfortable that this means many, if not all, participant cities, including Los Angeles, would need to maintain two sets of “docks”, two different kinds of bicycles and two different fare structures and payment systems. The resulting customer experience will be confusing and an embarrassment to our region. Instead of taking advantage of momentum already created by local cities, Metro is imposing an older technology over locally preferred systems.

What happened?

In 2011, Santa Monica received a Metro Call for Projects grant of $2 million for planning and implementation of bike-share. This allowed Santa Monica to jump-start planning. Santa Monica is a great place to start bikeshare. The city has excelled at building a multidimensional bike infrastructure. It has robust tourism and a bike-friendly culture. In addition, the arrival of the Expo light rail in early 2016 is an opportunity to create new connections to stations that will help increase ridership.

Long after Santa Monica began its planning and implementation, Metro inexplicably began its own plan. Understanding that regional operability would be a key to success, Santa Monica used its seed money wisely and reached out regionally during its thorough process. Broad input was received and incorporated into a request for proposals that, again, was circulated widely for input. Ultimately, Santa Monica selected a cutting edge vendor who will begin deploying bikes in just a few weeks. Long Beach has adopted the same technology. West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and UCLA are not far behind.

If Metro insists on its own system, it should prioritize interoperability so proposing vendors must explain how they would achieve that key goal. Instead, the agency weighted its bid process by prioritizing other criteria. The result of Metro’s process was three finalists, none of whom will produce a product that is compatible with the technology which will be used by Santa Monica and other Westside cities.

This week, the Metro Board will vote on implementing a system that is incompatible with existing systems and will ensure inferior experience for all bike-share customers.

There is an alternative. The Metro Board should delay its decision until the Santa Monica-West Hollywood-UCLA-Long Beach-Beverly Hills system is up and running. If that roll-out is successful, Metro can build on an existing successful system. If that initiative falls on its face, Metro can implement a new regional alternative. The hope and expectation is that the public embraces the Santa Monica-West Hollywood-UCLA-Long Beach-Beverly Hills bike-share program and it functions as well as expected. If that is the case, Metro should focus on what is best for users and taxpayers and work collaboratively to integrate other communities into a singularly exciting new transportation option.

* * *

Assemblymember Richard Bloom is a member of the California State Assembly representing Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood and surrounding West L.A. areas. He is the former Mayor of Santa Monica.

Councilmember John Heilman is a member of the West Hollywood City Council and former Mayor.

Councilmember Dr. William Warren Brien is a member of the Beverly Hills City Council and former Mayor.

All three authors are former chairs of the Westside Cities Council of Governments, a regional agency focused on, among other things, on improving transportation on the Westside.