August 29, 2013
Bay Area Bike Share Program In Action
With 700 bikes spread across 70 stations in San Francisco and down the Caltrain corridor to San Jose, the Bay Area Bike Share program formally started rolling at noon on thursday.
At the moment, the three most popular stations in San Francisco as measured by the least number of bikes available are the stations at Market and 4th Street; the Caltrain adjacent station at 330 Townsend; and the North Beach station at Grant and Columbus.
An annual pass for the program runs $88; a three-day pass $22; and a daily pass $9; all of which offer an unlimited number of 30-minute rides.
Keeping a bike for over 30 minutes will cost an extra $4 for the next half hour and another $7 for every 30 minutes thereafter up to $150 a day. Permanently keeping or losing a bike will result in a charge of $1,200 to your credit card.
First Published: August 29, 2013 4:00 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Awesome. I am currently in the City of Lights and these have been extremely popular ever since they have been introduced years ago. My guesstimate is that 1/2 the bicycles I see on the street are bike share in Paris.
And Paris has homeless, dirty streets, vandalism, rampant bike theft, crazy drivers, the works. Proof that these systems can thrive when the demand is there.
Looking forward to ride with the newbies
Posted by: lol at August 29, 2013 4:41 PM
These are very popular in Chicago too. I see most of the stations almost empty all the time and their bikes are all over the city. These seem very popular with tourists especially. Glad San Francisco is finally getting this program.
Posted by: AnonInLincolnPark at August 29, 2013 4:50 PM
They work swell in Tel Aviv too :)
Not so sure I'd bother in a city I live in though. But I can see these being a sweet deal for a worker on a budget with
Posted by: 49yo hipster at August 29, 2013 4:50 PM
...with a < 30 minute commute and being located near these bike stations. Bike from civic center, loin, tendernob, or soma to fidi anyone?
Posted by: 49yo hipster at August 29, 2013 4:54 PM
"They work swell in Tel Aviv too :)"
Yes they do. I wish we had the same "boulevard"-style street design in SF. Not sure how practical it actually is for a city with our amount of traffic, but I really liked biking through little parks all over the city. Sort of like biking through the Panhandle.
Posted by: OMN at August 29, 2013 5:42 PM
should prove popular with commuters who roll into SF on BART or Caltrain, especially if there is a station near where they work. Might help cut down on the desire of some to drive into the city if they work "too far to walk from bart" but still in range by bike.
Posted by: BigV at August 29, 2013 6:42 PM
They should put some of these bikes in the Mission-- it's flat, has bike lanes, and car parking can be challenging.
Posted by: Dan at August 29, 2013 10:08 PM
My major misgiving is that the number of bikes and stations is simply too small. NYC started with 6000, ramping up quickly to 10,000. Chicago has 1500, and has near-term plans to double that. We have 350; it's simply not enough to make a functional system, and there are seemingly no plans for expansion.
It would be amazing if I could get from the Richmond to Market, or from Market to North Beach, or from the Mission to the Inner Sunset. Right now, though, that's not happening.
I bought a membership just to show support. But right now it's only partially functional.
Posted by: Alai at August 29, 2013 10:47 PM
With San Francisco's MUNI system not really cognizant of the population in SoMa going from 10,000 or so in 1990 to over 40,000 in 2010 and adding hundreds by the new tower, the Bike Share helps fill the gap a big for those able to ride a bike.
I took the Bike Share bikes out for 8 separate point-to-point rides this evening... from South Park to 2nd/The Embarcadero to Sansome/The Embarcadero to Clay/Battery to Post/Kearny to 2nd/Howard and so on...
Fun stuff! Now if we can just get Mayor Lee to take action on Making SoMa Streets Safe Now.
Posted by: jamie at August 30, 2013 1:05 AM
Surprised the THD's aren't all over this.
I mean even the Chicago NIMBY's managed to work up the energy for at least one ridiculous lawsuit.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at August 30, 2013 7:02 AM
A lot of the shared bikes in Paris ended up taking an early 'retirement' to North Africa.
Hopefully our program doesn't get sabotaged like that.
But I really do wonder the wisdom of throwing a bunch of newbies into city traffic. A lot of riders can't handle themselves worth s*** but assume bycling is totally safe. It is not, and just means there will be more accidents and fatalities. Riding a bike in traffic is less safer than riding a motorcycle at triple digit speeds at Laguna Seca, and I do both regularly.
Posted by: anon at August 30, 2013 7:05 AM
Is our pricing model really the norm?
Posted by: BobN at August 30, 2013 7:57 AM
About the "disappearance" of shared bikes in Paris, one guy figured the Paris and Lyons bike share systems were identical. For the fun of it he covered 300 miles with a Paris bike...and left it at a Lyons station.
Posted by: lol at August 30, 2013 7:59 AM
Actually in London anyway there were less accidents. Novice riders are inherently more careful and drivers, suddenly faced with tourists on bikes everywhere, were more alert.
Posted by: wc1 at August 30, 2013 7:59 AM
these bikes here in sf are "bixi" bikes designed in montreal with a pretty much un-removable gps tracker - i pity the fool that takes one of these for a ride.
anyway, i agree with the comment about the paucity of bikes, like we should have 6x the number around the bay area. like even just the mission could handle 50 stations. i live close enough to most things that i walk, but i'd love to be able to ride down geary out to the richmond to eat korean or whatever, we need the stations for that! as it is, this is pretty much being used to fill the gaps in muni, which is nice but not much use to walkers like me.
Posted by: david m at August 30, 2013 1:37 PM
As Alai mentioned, New York City's CitiBike rolled out in May.
The single most unhinged attack ever on bike sharing had to have come from WSJ Editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz on New York City’s then-new bike-share program. To wit:
Do not ask me to enter the minds of the totalitarians running the government of this city. Look, I represent the majority of citizens. The majority of the citizens of this city are appalled by what has happened and I would like to say to people who don’t live in New York that this means something much more than the specifics of this dreadful program.
It means, envision what happens when you get a government that is run by an autocratic mayor or other leader and a government before which you are helpless! We now look at a city whose best neighborhoods are absolutely — you know, begrimed is the word — by these blazing blue Citibank bikes. All of the finest, most picturesque parts of the city. It is shocking to walk around the city to see how much of this they have sneaked under the radar in the interests of the environment.
Go take in the whole thing, she takes cyclist hatred to a whole new level.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 30, 2013 2:25 PM
I lived in Paris for the first 3-1/2 years of their Velib system. Yes, it is wildly popular and has doubled the number of bikes on Paris streets. But, although I support a system like this, I cannot possibly see it working as it is way too small and costs too much.
Paris' system has 1800 stations approximately 300 meters apart all over the city (a small number are in close suburbs). Each station typically has more than 20 bicycles. And they started out on day one with most of those stations, such that there was a station approximately every 500 meters. This makes the system incredibly convenient. No matter where you are in the city, there are lots of stations within a 5 minute walk.
The cost there for a yearly subscription is only 29€ (about $40) or 39€ if one wants the option of keeping the bikes for 45 minutes in lieu of 30 each trip. Subscriptions for young people are 10€ less. That's half the cost of this system. Plus, the additional fee for keeping the bike over the limit is much lower.
Thus, the system actually provides a viable convenient low-cost way for people to commute to and from work, run errands, etc.
It seems to me that first impressions are critical and if the system is expensive and too limited at the beginning people give up on it right away, making the pilot unsuccessful and dooming it from the get-go. I hope that won't happen here but can't fathom how those responsible for this think 350 bikes in a very limited area of the city are going to get people excited enough to subscribe.
Posted by: AnotherAnon at August 30, 2013 5:02 PM
San Francisco streets are dangeaours and are full of potholes. Our streets are as bad as in Costa Rica. I have two friends who died recently for riding bikes on San Francisco streets. Muni has a budget of almost one BILLION dollars a year. Where did all the money go? Let's make our streets safer for people who care about our environment. Let's makes our streets free of potholes!
Posted by: Screw the drivers at August 30, 2013 5:22 PM
i do hope that they fill the potholes as well. i can only go so fast right now in my porsche as am afraid the steering and rack and pinion will be damaged by potholes. if they were fixed i could zoom across the city on polk, masonic, valencia, etc. anywhere in the city in 10 minutes
Posted by: jim at August 30, 2013 7:39 PM
No word yet on whether these shared bikes are actually capable of stopping at red lights and stop signs. If they are, that would be a huge innovation in SF.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at September 2, 2013 10:46 PM
Have you seen some of the homeless on Market Street that are now "protecting" the bike stands and asking and expecting money to assist tourists in the rentals? The way they are acting you would think they own and operate the stand themselves.
This problem is similar to what takes place at ticket machines in the Powell Street MUNI/BART station which I feel should be illegal as I don't want anyone trying to "assist" me in my transaction". The security offices just look on as they plant themselves right next to or under the machines.
If they were asked to stop their interruption in tourists trying to rent the bikes, I would not be surprised if these rental stations get seriously vandalized.
Posted by: anonfedup at September 3, 2013 7:14 AM
As a lifelong cyclist, I miss the days of no bike lines and when the only bikes on the road were ridden by messengers or roadies. Only the strong survived. Now packs of tourists who haven't ridden a bike in the last 10 years just impede the flow.
Posted by: anon at September 3, 2013 9:46 AM
Only the strong survived
Lifelong cyclist too, but I have learned that today's newbies are tomorrow's bike enthusiasts. It's by brushing elbows with messengers in London in the 80s that I learned my city skills. They probably hated my guts too like you do today. A Frenchman learning from a swarm of brit messengers. Ironical isn't it? Then again, we were all riding Peugeots...
Posted by: lol at September 3, 2013 10:03 AM
OUCH! The reviews are in and it does not look good. Reading the Yelp reviews spells trouble for this program, especially regarding the confusing 30 minute rule.
"If I can only ride the bike for 30 minutes and there are VERY LIMITED places to park them, what is the point of this company? I was charged $68 to transport 2 people for 2 hours.
If you are trying to get to get from one place to another within a short distance, do what the Bay Area Bike Share customer service suggested, and take a cab"
"Beware of 30 limit per bike on your 24 hour rental. I learned the hard way with $68 overage charge for two bikes over a few hours."
"And what happens the first time someone falls down, The Bicycle Lobby will swoop in like a pack of vampires and read from their list of prepared statements:
"We need to slow the street down"
"we need a redesign plan with two-way streets and separate bike lanes"
Posted by: Ouch! at December 2, 2013 4:17 PM
I recall a friend in Paris who left his bike at a rack when they started Velib. He heard the usual click but the green light didn't come. They charged him the cost of the bike. Ouch! indeed.
He swore never to use the service again and has been very vocal on social media. He is still very cranky on the service, but it didn't stop Velib from being the resounding success that it is today. Every system needs to iron out the kinks. You'll always hear the few angry unhappy customers more than the silent majority of users.
Posted by: lol at December 2, 2013 4:57 PM
I got an annual membership and used them. Haven't lately but that is because it is dark when I leave work and I'm not riding down Market Street in the dark. My main problem with the program is that if you aren't near Market St (no further west than Van Ness) or SOMA, there are no places to pick up or return the bike. Very limited area covered in SF. The people complaining did not pay attention to the terms of service nor did they pay attention to the what the program is for. With the limited area covered I find it hard to believe it took them two hours to get from point A to point B. The program is clearly to use the bikes to get somewhere, not to use them to play tourist or to go on leisurely bike rides.
Posted by: Rillion at December 3, 2013 1:52 PM