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Bike share program has had to revamp after first year on the road

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Evan DuCharme/S.F. Examiner File Photo
The North American Bike Share Association is working to link bike-share programs in cities across the country and could help the Bay Area program with some recent challenges.

The future expansion of Bay Area Bike Share remains at a standstill.

The bike-share system, which celebrates its one-year anniversary Friday, spans San Francisco, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto and San Jose. It was launched with 700 bikes and 70 stations, cut back from initial plans for 1,000 bikes regionally. Instead of 50 stations, The City ended up with 35.

Funding has been in place since last fall for a 17-station expansion in San Francisco — 15 through regional funds and two through additional money raised — but it has been on a “holding pattern,” said Heath Maddox, senior planner and bike-share program manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has been unable to purchase the equipment because the hardware and software providers filed for bankruptcy and Alta Bicycle Share, the operations and maintenance contractor, is going through a change of ownership.

“We have station locations mostly picked out in San Francisco. We've done a lot of outreach around that and we basically stopped,” Maddox said. “We basically took a step back and are waiting to hear what takeovers and acquisitions come from the sale of these two companies.”

Data from the air-quality district and SFMTA revealed that the bike-share station at the San Francisco Caltrain station on Fourth and Townsend streets had the most people checking out bikes, with 19,259 trips since the pilot launched on Aug. 29 through the end of July. It was followed by 13,838 cumulative trips at the Ferry Building and 11,868 at The Embarcadero and Sansome Street.

The same three stations took first, second and third place, respectively, for the most bikes returned to those stations.

Since launching, the bike-share program has attracted 5,000 annual members and 28,000 casual members, combining for more than 284,000 trips and 630,000 miles — equivalent to 25 times around the world, according to the air-quality district.

Adding 300 more bikes and 30 stations regionally, which would bring the bike share pilot to its original launch numbers, will likely take two years to accomplish, Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said.

No pricing hikes are planned.

“We've created a lot of momentum here so I would say that it would appear unlikely that it would contract,” air-quality district spokesman Ralph Borrmann said. “It seems to be that we're expanding.”

Sharing perks

To celebrate Bay Area Bike Share's first birthday, riders can enjoy the following:

– $5 day passes: Normally $9, 24-hour passes will be available for $5 from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Friday. Remember that overage fees still apply.

– Free burritos: Members can stop by designated Bay Area Bike Share stations and flash their key for a free Chipotle burrito certificate.

– Clipper card sweepstakes: Celebrate one year of rides and adventures on Bike Share by tweeting “Before #bayareabikeshare I…but now I…” The top five tweets will win an $88 Clipper Card.

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