EVAN DUCHARME/S.F. Examiner File PhotoBay Area Bike Share's proposed expansion to more than 7

EVAN DUCHARME/S.F. Examiner File PhotoBay Area Bike Share's proposed expansion to more than 7

Bay Area Bike Share off to a fast start

The Bay Area's first bike-sharing network, a small-scale pilot program, appears to be heading in the right direction.

From its launch Aug. 29 through Sept. 16, Bay Area Bike Share has recorded 14,591 trips on the sea foam-green bikes across San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose. The total annual membership count was at 2,080, and the number of one- to three-day per-week users was 3,411.

Only two thefts have been reported in San Francisco, and police recovered one bike.

Data specific to The City's 34 operating stations and popular routes has yet to be made available, but Karen Schkolnick, the air quality program manager at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said, “The San Francisco system is very popular. We're seeing a lot of activity along the Market Street corridor and usage pretty much systemwide.”

Station sizes vary, but there are about two parking spots for each bike assigned to a station. If a station lacks parking spots, the rider can simply call customer service for an extra 15 minutes to get to the next station, which is usually within a couple of blocks.

The pilot fleet size — 700 bikes total, with half in San Francisco — is expected to grow to 1,000 bikes in all, with 500 in The City. It pales in comparison to growth in Chicago, which started with 700 bikes in July and now has 3,000. New York also launched a network this summer, using private funds and 6,000 bikes.

“We are on the smaller side, but again nobody is trying to do a regional program and it's something we're very interested in,” Schkolnick said.

With San Francisco's downtown core between Civic Center and The Embarcadero already serviced, the next step would be expanding into neighborhoods to serve commuters, she said.

The City is a partner in Bay Area Bike Share. To move things along, however, Supervisor Scott Wiener called a hearing last Tuesday on near-term expansion plans and a long-term strategy for a citywide rollout.

“Bay Area Bike Share has been an exciting addition to our city streets and a welcome transit option,” Wiener said in a statement. “But to truly reap the full benefits of this program — like reducing traffic, improving public transit and stimulating the local economy — and to ensure its viability, we need to act promptly to expand bike sharing throughout San Francisco.”

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