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The Future of Bike-Share: An Interview with NABSA’s Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Matt Martin is the Project Manager for the North American Bikeshare Association and the Director of Rosewood Bikes, a nonprofit program bringing bike resources to a poorly served area of Portland, Oregon. Prior to NABSA, Matt led the Community Bike Project Omaha, an Omaha nonprofit focused on transportation equity issues, where he helped bring bike-share to Omaha and served as Omaha B-cycle’s bike-share Managing Director. 

The interview took place over email earlier this month.

Streetsblog L.A.: Tell us a little about your background. How did you come to the North American Bike Share Association?

I got into focusing on transportation policy expanding opportunities for bicycling in 2008, after a career of working in international security issues, as the perspective of my interests turned from global to local. While directing the Community Bike Project Omaha, I teamed together with a local health advocacy organization to create Omaha B-cycle and bring bike-sharing to Omaha. As a result of that, I met more of the national bike-share community. When NABSA reached out to me in 2015, I was happy to come aboard.

What is the North American Bikeshare Association? What do you do?

The North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) exists to further bike-share and to support its members in North America and beyond. We host an annual conference that brings together bike-share system operators, local officials, vendors, and people seeking to learn about bike-sharing to share best practices, learn about new innovations, and gain insights on international trends.

We provide a range of services for our members – including expert webinars; a repository of guides, RFPs, contracts, and other documents; an internal discussion group; and daily support for the immediate questions and issues that can arise when planning or operating a bike-share system.

What is exciting about bike-shake? Explain some examples of the benefits that bike-share cities are seeing.

Whatever your usual way of getting around, bike-share can offer a convenient, green, inexpensive, and healthy option. Bike-share provides an alternative to single-occupancy vehicles and the problems they create for both the user and the city—cost, parking, and congestion. We’ve also seen them act as an alternative to public transit—when trains are offline for maintenance, those users can and do switch to bike-share.

Bike-share is often a “last mile” solution, used as part of a mix with other transportation modes. Users drive or ride transit in from the suburbs and use bike-share to complete their journey from the parking garage or bus stop. Even bicyclists can benefit, as bike-sharing eliminates the concerns over private bike maintenance and theft, when leaving a personal bike locked up outside.

Beyond these direct benefits, cities have enjoyed other urban planning benefits as well. As cities redesign their urban landscapes to encourage bike-share and active transportation, we have seen a virtual explosion of new pedestrian plazas, greenways, and urban renewal that has not only made our cities more efficient, but more beautiful as well.  Read more…

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Venice Opens First Official Breeze Bike Share Hub

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Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez (left) and L.A. Councilmember Mike Bonin (right) install the first physical Breeze Bike Share station in Venice. Photos courtesy of Councilmember Bonin’s office.

Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin joined Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez early Monday morning to officially install the first of five Breeze Bike Share hubs in Venice.

The new station, which is located at 5th Street and Rose, is the first physical station of Santa Monica’s 500-bike, 80-station Breeze Bike Share system in the city of Los Angeles, though Breeze riders have been able to drop bikes off at virtual hubs for several months now.

“The best way to reduce traffic is to make it easier to get around without a car, and these five new bike-share stations will connect communities on the Westside with convenient access to Breeze bikes.” said Bonin.

Celebrating the opening of the 5th Street and Rose Breeze Bike Share station in Venice.

Celebrating the opening of the 5th Street and Rose Breeze Bike Share station in Venice.

“While Metro’s bike-share program won’t reach Venice until Spring of next year, I am thrilled that our partnership with Santa Monica lets our side of town get access to bike share months before Metro’s program reaches the Westside. This is an exciting day for Venice and the people who love this neighborhood,” he said.

Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez said, “Expanding Breeze Bike stations into Venice will take riders farther and reduce car trips. More stations adds to the convenience of the system and will get more people onto two wheels.”

The station at 5th and Rose is the first of five physical Breeze Bike Share stations that will be installed in Venice.

According to Bonin’s Facebook page, the other stations will be located at Rose/Ocean Front Walk (on the boardwalk across from Venice Ale House), Ocean Front Walk/Park Ave (two stations, one on the boardwalk and one on the walk street), California/Abbot Kinney (in the street), and Venice/Abbot Kinney (southeast corner, adjacent to the palm trees).

The new stations are the most recent visible indication that bike-share is going region wide.  Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: West Hollywood’s Got Bike-Share

West Hollywood's new bike-share system opened yesterday. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

West Hollywood’s new bike-share system opened yesterday. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The full system launch is not until August 30, but the city of West Hollywood soft-launched its bike-share system yesterday. WeHo Pedals now has dozens of bicycles available at four initial stations. Introductory annual memberships are just $69.

WeHo Pedals is operated by CycleHop, the same vendor that runs systems in Santa Monica (including Venice stations coming this month), Long Beach, Beverly Hills, and, coming soon, UCLA. The bikes are “smart bikes” meaning that the electronics are located on the bike itself, not the dock. Bikes can be locked up at designated docks, or at other locations within the service area. The system coverage area overlaps with neighboring Beverly Hills, so cyclists can pick up a bike in WeHo and leave it in Beverly Hills.

WeHo Pedals system map

WeHo Pedals system map – red dots are initial stations open now. Image via WeHo Pedals [PDF]

Nearly all of the bike-share stations are along Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood’s central spine. The four stations currently available are:

  • West Hollywood City Hall, 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard
  • West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard
  • Santa Monica Boulevard at N. Crescent Heights Boulevard
  • Santa Monica Boulevard between Holloway Drive and N. Olive Drive

Get all the fabulous details at WeHo Pedals website. More photos from yesterday’s launch after the jump.  Read more…

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Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike Share Nears 30,000 Active Users

Councilmembers Kevin McKeown, Ted Winterer, and Gleam Davis join Assemblymember Richard Bloom to cut the ribbon in November, officially opening the Breeze Bike Share system to the public. Photo via city of Santa Monica.

Councilmembers Kevin McKeown, Ted Winterer, Tony Vaquez. and Gleam Davis join Assemblymember Richard Bloom, community activists, and city staff to cut the ribbon in November, officially opening the Breeze Bike Share system to the public. Photo via city of Santa Monica.

Eight months after Santa Monica launched the first public bike-share program in L.A. County, the system is working.

According to a report delivered to the City Council Tuesday night, Breeze Bike Share is nearing 30,000 “active subscribers” and has been used for roughly 170,000 trips since the system launched in November.

“[Breeze Bike Share is a] key component of our overall mobility strategy for the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce vehicle trips, to improve mobility options for all residents, employees, and visitors to Santa Monica and to really serve as a last mile-first mile connection to the Expo line and other transportation options here in the city,” Kyle Kozar, Santa Monica’s bike-share coordinator, told the Council Tuesday night.

He noted that the first year of the system’s operation would help establish a baseline going forward.

Kozar noted that Santa Monica residents “ride bike-share more than any other geographic group.”

From Kozar's report Tuesday, a graph showing the breakdown of Breeze users according to area of residence.

From Kozar’s report Tuesday, a graph showing the breakdown of Breeze users according to area of residence.

Currently, Santa Monica residents make up 18 percent of the system’s subscribers, but they account for almost half (44 percent) of the trips made.

Users coming from other parts of L.A. County make up a little more than a third (34 percent) of subscribers and account for 23 percent of the trips taken while visitors from outside of L.A. County make up 47 percent of the subscribers and take 33 percent of the trips.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown saw this as a sign of success since he believed it demonstrated that people in Santa Monica who may not have ridden before have begun riding bikes as a result of bike-share.

And there are plans to make the system more accessible to the city’s lower-income residents.

McKeown announced that the city and Breeze will be partnering with Community Corporation of Santa Monica, the city’s single largest provider of affordable housing, to offer a special $60/year membership for residents of CCSM buildings and a program that would let them seek up to 90 percent reimbursement.

Breeze Bike Share is restructuring its fee schedule starting on August 1, which will have the effect of making the system overall less expensive for those who have monthly or annual plans.

Screenshot 2016-07-27 at 2.22.59 PMThe current price menu has two tiers of plans: basic and premium. A basic plan, which costs $20 a month, $119 a year for nonresidents, or $79 a year for residents, includes 30 minutes a day of ride time. A premium plan, which costs $25 a month, $149 a year for nonresidents, and $99 a year for residents, includes 60 minutes of ride time. The student plan currently costs $47 for a sixth-month term and also includes 60 minutes of ride time. The pay-as-you-go rate is currently $6 an hour.

The new pricing structure, which was approved by the City Council on June 14, replaces those with four pricing options: $99 a year, $25 a month, $7 a month for students, or $7 an hour for pay-as-you-go users. The annual and monthly passes include 90 minutes of ride time and the student membership no longer needs to be bought for a six-month period at a time.

The changes reflect overall price reductions for all but the pay-as-you-go, which will see an increase of a $1 an hour.

According to Kozar’s report, overwhelmingly users opt for the pay-as-you-go option, whether they are from out of town or locals.  Read more…

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Bike-Share Updates: DTLA, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and California

It has been a week since Metro Bike Share opened in downtown Los Angeles. The system is currently open only to members, who must pre-register online. So I figured it’s time to take a ride and assess how bike-share is doing in various incarnations around the L.A. basin, including West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and downtown Los Angeles.

West Hollywood councilmember Linsey Horvath demonstrates a WeHo Pedals bike. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Councilmember Lindsey Horvath (right) demonstrates a WeHo Pedals bike. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

West Hollywood – WeHo Pedals

WeHo Pedals, the city of West Hollywood’s smart-bike bike-share system, is set to soft launch on Tuesday, August 9. The initial phase will be a pilot with just four stations:

  • West Hollywood City Hall, 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard
  • West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard
  • Santa Monica Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Formosa Avenue at N. Crescent Heights Boulevard (location updated per WeHo)
  • Santa Monica Boulevard between Holloway Drive and N. Olive Drive

The city of West Hollywood will host a community preview event on August 9 from noon to 2 p.m. at West Hollywood City Hall.

The full system, tentatively set to launch with a ribbon-cutting on August 30, will feature 150 bikes, twenty bike-share stations, and a supporting website and app. Docking stations are less critical for smart-bike systems, as bikes can be locked up and retrieved anywhere inside system boundaries.

WeHo Pedals will be operated by CycleHop, the same vendor as Santa Monica’s Breeze, Beverly Hills Bike Share, Long Beach Bike Share, and a planned UCLA bike-share system due this fall. If all goes well, the Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and UCLA systems will be seamlessly integrated under the banner of a “Westside Regional Bike Share” program.

The WeHo Pedals website is not live yet, but for more information see the city’s bike-share page.

Santa Monica – Breeze

Santa Monica’s Breeze bike-share recently approved a new simplified pricing structure which takes effect August 1. It is not a radical departure from previous rates, but monthly and annual members get a bit more bike for their buck. The changes also make student passes easier and hourly passes a little more expensive. Overall the new pricing seems to support more everyday use for people who spend a lot of time in Santa Monica.

I would like to see more in the way of unlimited rides, similar to a gym membership, a bus pass, or for that matter a freeway. Unlimited duration riding is available in many cities. It encourages more bicycling, but it is perhaps hard on the fiscal bottom line for bike-share providers. Hopefully these systems are socking away bundles of cash that they can use to expand geographically, which would probably be even better than expanding temporally.

Details on the new Breeze pricing at Santa Monica Next.

Downtown L.A. – Metro Bike Share

It’s still very early, but I’ve been seeing lots of Metro Bike Share bikes at docks, but relatively few people riding bike-share on downtown streets. In fact, I have yet to see another person riding one of these bikes since last Thursday’s opening kickoff, but I am not downtown every day. When I’ve ridden Metro Bike Share, pedestrians and drivers have been curious and asked me about how to “rent” bikes. Read more…

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Metro Bike Share Kicks-Off, System Open In Downtown L.A.

Metro board chair John Fasana celebrates the arrival of Metro Bike Share. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro board chair John Fasana celebrates the arrival of Metro Bike Share. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This morning a crowd of over a thousand people gathered to celebrate the opening of Los Angeles’ newest transportation system: Metro Bike Share. The system’s opening festivities took place at Grand Park. It featured music, speakers, and a ceremonial ride where cyclists rode bike-share bikes to distribute them to stations throughout downtown L.A.

The Metro Bike Share system includes just over a thousand bikes at about 65 docking stations throughout downtown Los Angeles, from Union Station to the Arts District to Staples Center to L.A. Trade Tech College to Chinatown. View a dynamic map of the system here or find it on the Metro Bike Share app.

Right now through the end of July, the system is open to members only. To become a member sign-up online at Metro Bike Share. As of August 1, the system will be fully open to preregistered members and walk-ups.

Photos of today’s kick-off follow after the jump.  Read more…

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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.”  Read more…

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Metro Sets Date To Launch DTLA Bike-Share: July 7

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Publicity photo for Metro bike-share. Photo via Allison Mannos

Downtown L.A. will get a little more bike-friendly with the launch of Metro bike-share, just announced for Thursday, July 7, 2016. Metro bike-share will include 1000+ bikes at 65 docking stations. The system is expected to expand to Pasadena in 2017, and other areas in future years.

From Metro’s press release:

People who live, work and play in downtown L.A. are encouraged to sign up for a Metro bike share pass in advance of the launch at www.metro.net/bikeshare. The system will be accessible exclusively to pass holders from July 7 until August 1, 2016 to incentivize pass holder sales. The system will open to walk-up customers starting August 1. People who purchase their pass early will get a limited edition Metro Bike Share Kit. The first 1,000 people to sign up will also receive exclusive Metro bike share pins.

The installation of bike share stations throughout downtown L.A. will begin in early June, with work expected to continue until the stations open to the public on July 7.

Who’s already signed up?

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Councilmember Jose Huizar Promotes a More Bikeable Downtown L.A.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar is excited about the future of bicycling in downtown Los Angeles. At a press event yesterday, Huizar took a test spin on one of Metro’s bike-share bikes. SBLA Streetsie-winner Huizar sees bike-share as one key feature of “a snowball effect” virtuous cycle for central Los Angeles: more bikes on the street will trigger more safety-in-numbers, which will prompt more city investment in bikeways, which will lead to even more bicycling.

Metro’s 1000+bike 60+station bike-share system is coming to downtown “this June – though it might slip,” according to Huizar.

Huizar recently announced that protected bike lanes will be coming to downtown’s Spring and Main Streets. These improvements are part of an umbrella “DTLA Forward” initiative for a more walkable, bikeable, livable downtown Los Angeles. DTLA Forward includes these two bikeways, pedestrian head-start signals, green alleys, street trees, and a handful of other worthwhile (but not quite transformative) downtown initiatives, plus a (quite transformative) “Your Downtown L.A. Vision Plan” [PDF]. The Vision Plan, created under the auspices of the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council with support from the So. Cal. Association of Governments (SCAG), calls for all downtown streets to be complete streets.

Spring and Main Street currently feature a couplet of buffered bike lanes. The Spring Street lane was the city’s first (somewhat controversial) green bike lane, and now its first partially-green pavement bike lane. The protected bike lanes are expected to be implemented in late 2016, after a handful of community outreach meetings.  Read more…

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Eyes On The Street: Metro Bike-Share Really Coming To DTLA This Summer

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Metro bike-share coming to a downtown street near you this summer. Photo via Allison Mannos

It is not real until the marketing materials say it is real, right? Via friend of the blog Allison Mannos, enjoy an image from a marketing photo shoot for Metro’s exciting new bike-share system debuting in downtown Los Angeles this Summer. No start date has been announced yet.

The roughly 1000-bike, 60-station system will extend from USC to Union Station throughout a service area roughly bounded by Chinatown, the L.A. River, Washington Boulevard and the 10 Freeway.  The initial $11 million funding is in place for the initial 2-year Metro bike-share contract with operator Bicycle Transit SystemsMetro approved the planned fare structure last November, and in March approved what amounts to basically a half-price discount for low-income people, students, and seniors. Future year system expansion is expected to bring the bike-share system to Pasadena, central Los Angeles, Hollywood, and other parts of L.A. County.

Who else out there is excited to see this great new transportation mode on the streets of downtown L.A.?