Bike-Share Has Arrived: Santa Monica Breeze Opens!

Santa Monica's Breeze Bike-Share system opened earlier today. Photos by Joe Linton
Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike-Share system opened earlier today. Photos by Joe Linton

The first public bike-share system in Los Angeles County opened today to much fanfare. Santa Monica’s Breeze bike-share features 500 bicycles at 75 stations throughout the city of Santa Monica, plus four in adjacent Venice. The system is run by CycleHop under a contract with the city of Santa Monica. System start-up funding came from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Metro, and Caltrans, plus an annual $675,000 sponsorship for at least five years from the Santa Monica-based entertainment company Hulu. Bicycles are available for rent hourly, monthly, or annually.

Breez bike-share rates - image via Breeze
Breeze bike-share rates – image via Breeze. They are currently offering a $99/year “founding member” rate, as well.

Enjoy the following photo tour of the first morning of L.A. County’s first bike-share system. 

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This morning’s Breeze fleet in front of Santa Monica City Hall. The bikes feel just slightly lighter than the NYC Citi Bike ones that I’ve ridden, though they’re still heavy compared to an average road bike. They include a basket, bell, and eight speeds.
Santa Monica Mayor
Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown welcomes riders to Breeze bike-share
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Mayor McKeown, Santa Monica Councilmembers Gleam Davis, Ted Winterer, and Tony Vazquez, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, and other luminaries cut the ceremonial Breeze bike-share ribbon
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And they’re off! The inaugural bike ride was accompanied by the theme song from “Chariots of Fire”
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More than a hundred early adopters – many of them “Hulu-gans” – took bikes for an inaugural short ride around Santa Monica City Hall.
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How it works: Riders can sign up electronically, either on-line or via an app. Alternately, there are kiosks (10 kiosks spread throughout the city) where riders can walk up and use a credit card. I signed up at this kiosk on Ocean Avenue and Olympic Boulevard, next to Tongva Park. The entire process took about 2 minutes, including linking my account to my Metro TAP card. The system gives users a few options for access: you can just manually enter your 6-digit account number, you can “tap” your bike-share card (below), or you can use your linked Metro TAP card, with each of those accompanied by a PIN. (A note on TAP: the system uses one’s TAP card number only to identify the person accessing the bike. It does not interact with stored value on the card, or even credit card information linked to the card. The TAP holder must use a credit card to set up a Breeze account first, then link the TAP card to that account.)
Breeze member card (which I actually didn't use, favoring my TAP card)
What the Breeze membership card looks like (I didn’t actually use this, favoring my Metro TAP card instead).
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Once my account was set up, I tapped my card on the sensor on the back of the bike to unlock it.
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The Breeze system is what’s called a “smart bike” – all of the electronic systems are on-board the bike itself. The racks are very simple metal loops.
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When I finished riding, I attached the bike to the dock, using the built-in U-lock.
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Bicyclists riding Breeze in downtown Santa Monica.
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Friend of the blog, Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose, was pretty happy about the new system!
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Kudos to city staff, elected officials, vendors, funders, sponsors, and community members who made today’s bike-share kick-off possible. Pictured are the city of Santa Monica’s Strategic and Transportation Manager Francie Stefan and Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose.

Find out more about how you can use Breeze bike-share here.

In other bike-share news, next week Metro is expected to approve its proposed fare structure for its bike-share system debuting in downtown L.A. in mid-2016.

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