San Francisco and the Bay Area today launched what is being touted as the first public bike share program in California and the first regional program of its kind in the nation.
Top city and transit officials gathered this morning for the first rides using Bay Area Bike Share, a program offering seven-speed bikes for trips in San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose, Mountain View and Palo Alto.
The rental bikes are available for unlimited 30-minute trips on a $9 daily pass, $22 three-day pass or $88 annual membership. Trips of more than 30 minutes will result in surcharges starting at $4.
The bikes have GPS devices to deter theft and will cost $1,200 to replace if lost by a customer.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called the program “an easy, convenient, affordable and healthy transportation option that we’re eager to add to our transportation network.”
Lee joined other officials on an inaugural ride on the bikes from the San Francisco Caltrain station to City Hall this morning.
Amy Worth, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said Bay Area Bike Share “provides a fun alternative to driving around town” and could expand to other cities in the future.
In the first part of the pilot program, 700 bikes will be available at 70 kiosks around the five cities. In early 2014, 300 more bikes and 30 new kiosks will be added, according to organizers.
The $11.2 million project is a partnership between the MTC, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, San Francisco, Redwood City, San Mateo County, Caltrain, SamTrans and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld said he thinks the bike sharing program will be popular in the Bay Area.
“In a few months, everyone is going to be on one of these,” Blumenfeld said.
He said getting more people on bikes will reduce air pollution as well as congestion on the region’s roadways.
More information about the program can be found online at www.bayareabikeshare.com.
Photo: Rita Hao. Report: Dan McMenamin, Bay City News