A Bluegogo bike is seen near Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Bluegogo to pull its bikes off SF streets

Bikeshare company Bluegogo is cycling off into the sunset, at least for now.

Open questions about what permits Bluegogo needs to rent its bikes from parking spaces have prompted the company to pull all of its bikes from San Francisco, the company said.

“By end of day [Friday], our bikes will be removed from the rented parking spaces in San Francisco,” Lindsay Stevens, a spokesperson for Bluegogo, said Thursday. She confirmed all of their bikes will be off The City’s streets.

“We’re still here,” she added, and said the company is “prioritizing fulfilling all requests” San Francisco has made for permits in order to operate.

Chinese-based company Bluegogo drew sharp rebuke from city leaders when they were first rumored to be dropping thousands of bikes on city streets earlier this year, which would replicate its business model in China.

Instead of littering bikes on sidewalks, however, in San Francisco customers can unlock a bike via cell phone app at any station and ride it to another station.

Bluegogo was heavily lobbied against within city government by a rival bikeshare company, Motivate, whose Bay Area Bikeshare program is backed by Ford Motor Company.

The company also drew much ire from city officials, even before the rubber from their bikes hit the road. Stevens confirmed a man who played a key role in Bluegogo’s entry into San Francisco, Vice President of US Operations Ilya Movshovitch, is no longer with the company.

This month the Board of Supervisors approved new laws to regulate stationless bikeshare companies like Bluegogo crafted by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, including a new permit for bikeshares and administrative fines.

Bluegogo also faced administrative fines and possible police enforcement after violating zoning laws under the purview of the San Francisco Planning Department, which told Bluegogo it could not rent bikes from parking spaces not zoned for retail uses.

The second half of the new rules for bikeshare permits recently passed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and were recently approved by the Board of Supervisors. This new permit process may be Bluegogo’s opportunity to bring its bikes back on the road in San Francisco.

Chris Cassidy, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said bikesharing has potential to “revolutionise how people navigate our streets.”

“We’re excited to realize that potential,” he said, but “encourage regulators not to grant bike share companies any exceptions to the rules while they work out their plans.”

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