Bay Area Bike Share Station

A proposal to increase the number of bikes in the Bay Area Bike Share program from 700 to 7,000, and expand the network to include Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, will be considered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Administration Committee next week.

Motivate, the current operator of Bay Area Bike Share pilot program, is proposing to boost the number of bikes in San Francisco from 328 to 4,500, from 129 to 1,000 in San Jose, and would add stations and bikes in Oakland (850), Berkeley (400) and Emeryville (100).

The four-phase expansion would be funded by Motivate and completed by late 2017 as envisioned.  The proposal is expected to go before the full MTC for approval later this spring.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by curmudgeon

    Been waiting for this announcement! Yay!

    • Posted by Comment

      Agreed – This is great news!

    • Posted by Brad

      Very excited to see the expansion!

  2. Posted by anon

    This is stupid, I have a job where I need a car, so what’s in it for me?!?!?

    • Posted by Michael

      Fewer cars on the road so it’s less congested when you have to drive for work.

      • Posted by anon

        I was just trying my best to mimic moto, Futurist, and Anon1’s typical responses to anything involving the b-word.

        • Posted by Toby Jackson

          Job well done.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Funny, given that your posts are the ones typically trying to impose personal (and idealized, hypothetical future) views on everyone else, regardless of actual facts and needs.

          • Posted by 13yrsnew

            “idealized hypothetical future”? Assuming horrendous traffic is an “actual fact” and “getting around efficiently” is a “need”, what’s a more realistic solution? Building more highways? Restricting growth so people won’t want to move here? (oh wait, we’re trying that now)

            There’s an expression about trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result…

            my tax dollars pay for your roads. why can’t some more $$ go towards commute alternatives?


          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            LOL, I love the assumptions people make on blog commentaries. I’m 100% in favor of raising the gas tax, I’m a daily user of public transit, and I never said anything about building more roads.

          • Posted by anon

            What? I’m the one always advocating for market-based solutions. Perhaps you have me confused with moto and Futurist?

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            raising gas tax is a great idea. it will lead to a stronger push for more efficent cars, and may drive more people to motorcycle and scooter sue. now is also a good time to do it while gas is so cheap.

            Another thing we should do is require a test, a license and a license plate for bicycles jsut like all other moving vehicles. right now, there is no way to report sidewalk riders, red light runner, etc and traffic cameras can’t identify thos scofflaws either.

          • Posted by Comment

            There is no way to report people jaywalking either. We should require people to wear license plates on necklaces, front and back.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            a bicycle is a moving vehicle. many are travelling over 15mph and some over 20mph. people generally walk 3 mph. different story

          • Posted by Comment

            so you support some groups breaking rules just not others?
            different rules for different groups?

          • Posted by curmudgeon

            MotoMahem: Bikes are much closer to pedestrians than they are to cars. Ninety percent of pedestrians are killed when hit by a vehicle traveling at 55 mph. At 40 mph, 50 percent will die and at 25 mph, 10 percent are killed. Bikes also have a mass of a pedestrian plus about 15 lbs. Aside from the one exception that proves the rule in 2012, bikes unsurprisingly killed no pedestrians recently in SF to my knowledge. Cars kill about 20 a year, and injure about 900. (note, I’m not anti-car…I’m for both car drivers and pedestrians being more CAREFUL). People who advocate licenses and license plates for bicyclists willfully ignore these simple facts.

  3. Posted by Lindsey

    Praise Jehovah!

  4. Posted by moto mayhem

    since the 328 are barely used, it doesnt seem to make a lot of sense

    • Posted by david m

      right, you know more than the company that’s making the investment.

      • Posted by CH

        right, because companies never make bad investments!

        don’t underestimate the politics involved or need to undermine competition.

      • Posted by Moto mayhem

        It’s subsidized

        • Posted by Anon1

          Is it subsidized by our tax money?

          • Posted by Jake

            Yes, the pilot has spent $8.7 million in tax money (for less than 0.5 million rides to date), mostly federal congestion and air quality money that passes through the state to local. Trickle down taxenomics.
            This expansion is supposed to be entirely privately funded. Aside from taking over the existing assets, it looks like the main thing the private vendor is getting is exclusivity. Not that there was likely to be a competitor.

    • Posted by Brad

      They’re not used because they didn’t install stations where people live, only where people work.

  5. Posted by curmudgeon

    The SF bikes are used quite well, in my understanding, at similar rates to other cities. Clearly, it was a pretty stupid initial install, because it ONLY focused on downtown, cutting off many obvious markets (close in residential neighborhoods like the Mission, Hayes Valley, and Mission) where folks could use bike share to get to work or do errands. Part of the problem was the initial scheme scattered bikes in places like Palo Alto and Redwood City where there is almost no market. The current scheme will ramp up the central market of SF, and expand to the best additional market..Oakland/Berk/Emeryville. Why San Jose is getting an increase is a question, I don’t think the current use figures are very good there.

    • Posted by Zig

      Surprised there is no market around Caltrain on the Pennisula

      • Posted by Alai

        Maybe there would be with more locations, but five stations in an area just doesn’t cut it. The number of connections you could make is just too limited.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          I think the bigger constraint there is the rate structure. I’m sure there’s a huge potential demand for bike use at Caltrain stations. I certainly would have used it when I commuted to San Antonio – would have converted a 12-15 minute walk into a 2-minute ride. But most workers would need to “keep” the bikes all day (so as to return to the station at night), a prohibitive cost under the company’s rate structure.

          • Posted by Zig

            I guess at a large employer like Google or Genentech they could have stations on campus and perhaps have the companies subsidize but I do see the peak demand issue there.

          • Posted by Alai

            Well, that’s the point. Requiring people to return them, and not keep them all day, makes them available for others to use. I suppose you could make the argument that they could allow it in places where the program has been a flop so far (ie Redwood City and Palo Alto), but really they should just either shut them down and move them to where they’ll be effectively used by multiple people per day, or beef them up to the point that there are enough stations for them to be useful. But the system only works effectively as a multi-source, multi-destination network. To run it as one bike per commuter is inefficient.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            google and genentech already have bikes they provide on campus

    • Posted by Alai

      I wouldn’t say the initial install was stupid (well, PA and RC are another matter). But with the limited number of bikes they had, good coverage of one area was better than mediocre coverage of a larger one. Anyway, this will hopefully be a moot point in a year or two.

      As far as SJ goes, it didn’t have SF’s numbers, but it was a lot better than the peninsula towns.

      • Posted by Alai

        Correction: Mountain View is doing better than SJ, especially considering its limited number of stations. Still nowhere near SF.

  6. Posted by Jake

    Their ridership data is online (namelink). For just the SF trips in 2014Q4, weekdays during the dry weather were in the 1100-1400 trips per day range, weekends mostly below 400, overall daily average around 800 trips per day. Huge ~50% drop off when the rains came in mid-December. There are some bugs in the data, like some bogus station zip codes, but as long as the counts are correct they are a model of transparency for a transport service. SF trips were more than 90% of all trips in their bay area count.

    FWIW, these SF utilization numbers (2-4 trips/bike-day) look encouraging, though the total number of trips is essentially trivial in the overall scheme of moving people around SF. If it scales to 10X more trips would be more of an impact level. Guess we will see if 10X more bikes can do that.

    I don’t know who is paying for the expansion, but I think various pots of government money paid most of the costs so far (single digit $ millions).

    Hopefully this expansion will get a dense network of stations throughout the CBD/SoMa/MB and push stations out to GG Park, Presidio/Ft Point, Noe, Dogpatch. We need to run the system at scale to find out the potential. This looks like it could do it.

    • Posted by jwb

      The system is already close to an acceptable density in SoMA especially eastern soma. Ridership is going to skyrocket when there’s actually somewhere to go.

      • Posted by Jake

        Yeah, the current SF stations are in such a small area that they mostly compete with either walking or waiting 10 minutes for Muni. Also the pricing encourages one-way trips, which makes the location of the station at both end points relevant. Maybe once they have more bikes they won’t have such a punishing price for a 30+ minute use.
        My rule-of-thumb is the stations need to be within 2 blocks or 5 minute walk of where you are or need to go, half that would be ideal. Imagine if car parking was as sparse as their station network.

        • Posted by SFrentier

          I can tell you that this bike system works great in a small and dense city like Tel Aviv. It’s designed so people take point A to point B trips and NOT keep the bike with them during meetings, or worse, all day. So you really need many bike locations for this to work, and a dense city provides that. The company that laid these out in Tel Aviv really nailed it. I’m sure it took active research and a bit of trial and error, but I think it’s well worth the effort. It’s a perfect way for the occasional bike user to engage in a pretty simple system.

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      The expansion of the system is made possible by the fact that it is essentially being privatized. The new operator (the successor to the bankrupt former operator) has inked a sponsorship deal, and THAT is what is paying for the vast expansion. San Francisco’s initial system, quite uniquely, didn’t have any private sponsorship (like “Citibike” in NY for instance), and was run by public agencies (Bay Area Air Quality Management District, transitioning to Metropolitan Transportation Commission). That is what made its initial scope small. MTC wisely got out from under the burden of solely financing the expansion.

  7. Posted by BobN

    If “weekdays during the dry weather were in the 1100-1400 trips per day range” and there are 700 bikes, then the range of trips/bike-day is 1.6 to 2, not 2 to 4.

    I’d be curious to see a breakout of full-year members vs. 3-day types (tourists). It’s hard to imagine this as anything other than a $3.5 million dollars subsidy for, at best, 500 commuters who essentially use the bike as a private bike to/from work and 200 tourists.

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      700 bike system wide. Only 328 bike in San Francisco but they account for most of the trips.

      • Posted by BobN

        Ah, thanks for the correction. Still seems silly to me.

  8. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    10X is great news! My membership finally becoming more useful.

    The transportation services I have signed up includes

    – Bay Area Bike Share
    – City Car Share
    – Enterprise Carshare
    – Getaround
    – Uber
    – Lyft

    Thought I mainly use my personal bike and Muni. I think San Francisco is spoiled with transportation options.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      “I think San Francisco is spoiled with transportation options”. HAHAHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHA

      thanks to private enterprise we do have alternatives to the garbage transportation provided by the city. i live 3 miles from Fidi and it takes 41 minutes on the bus. I can walk it at my normal pace in 45 minutes.

  9. Posted by Anon

    Why are the YELP reviews so overwhelmingly negative for this program? Especially regarding the rental program in San Francisco? I was hoping these bikes would be used by locals for short trips, but it seems the people I see on them are tourists who do not regularly use a bike for mobility, and look at them as a novelty experience.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      My guess is because they’re difficult to use for commuters doing point-to-point… e.g., if I come up from Muni at Market, I can only use a bike *if* I can check it back in at my destination. Otherwise I’m paying (a lot) for an all-day use. So if I’m commuting to SoMa, probably OK as there are several bike stations there… but let’s face it, it’s also pretty easy to walk anywhere in SoMa from Market. But if I’m commuting to the northern FiDi, or North Beach, etc., I’m S.O.L.

      Or similarly, if I wanted to bike home from the FiDi to the Inner Richmond – there’s no bike station anywhere near my home, so where do I drop off the bike? Hence I don’t ride… but if I could know that I could check in the bike at, say, Park Presidio, then it’d be much more useful to me. So again, hopefully adding more stations makes it more useful to all.

      (Aside – does anyone know what happens if you get to a bike station to drop off a bike and all the slots are full? Are you screwed because you can’t check it in?)

      So hopefully adding more stations will have a multiplier effect that makes it even more used and useful.

      • Posted by SFrentier

        I think you need to bike to another one. Or isn’t there an app to check ahead of time (would be simple to create.)

        For these to work well, they need to set them up in clusters in any given neighborhood. This would be good for the mission. People could easily commute to DT, soma, civic center, etc. So a successful install in the mission would include at least 5-6 clusters, so you can pick up/drop off easily on this end.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        If the slots are full you need to find another station. That’s why it’s very important to a) have a lot of stations and b) reposition bikes constantly so stations don’t fill up. Understandably, there is a flow that will be exacerbated when there are more stations…in the morning people will flow towards downtown, and at 5 they will flow to the neighborhoods. So throughout the day, you need to move bikes around (loaded on the back of trucks). Some cities have found this repositioning a significant logistical challenge.

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          it cant be cost effective to use the bikes for regular commuting. you can buy a good used bike for $200.

          • Posted by Anon

            I was thinking the same thing! Reading the YELP reviews and what users are charged, it would be MUCH cheaper if tourists bought a used bike for the time period they are in the city. The sad thing is, the used bike prices are cheap in certain parts of town due to the whole industry that has developed around stolen bicycles and bike parts.

          • Posted by Alai

            I think most commuters pay for the convenience of not having to store it, find secure parking, perform regular maintenance, replace flats, worry about theft and vandalism, etc. Lots of people don’t even know how much (or even how) to pump their tires. This goes double for people who are getting off some other form of transportation– you can take a bike on Bart, but it’s not fun to haul it up and down steps and find a space in the train car, especially during commute times.

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      Going through the reviews. It seems people misunderstand the $9 day access fee. They think they can take the bike out all day and unaware of additional charges if they check out more than 30 minutes at a time. They get burned with high fee and thus all these the bad reviews. The company should definitely review this.

    • Posted by 94107

      I’ve been spoiled living in south beach where there are 3 stations within a 5-min walk of my apartment. I ride the bikes all the time to caltrain, downtown, or to Scoot hubs. Works great for destinations where it’s quicker to bike than walk, but I don’t want to leave my bike locked outside for a long period.

      Tons of commuters use the bikes to go caltraindowntown/soma.

  10. Posted by ElitistPig

    This is OUTRAGEOUS! The Shanghaization of our city MUST STOP!

    • Posted by Brian M

      Pretty soon we wuill all be forced to wear Mao Suits!

  11. Posted by S

    I used bike share every day for a couple of weeks while my own bike was in the shop. I thought it worked just fine. You can actually get quite far within 30 minutes. I live on the south side of Bernal and I ride to work downtown in about 30-35 minutes so I don’t think it would be outrageous to expand the system to places like Nob Hill, Hayes Valley, Tenderloin, Castro, Lower Haight, Divisadero, etc.

    I think the biggest complaint is lack of stations (i.e. a space to dock) which should be solved with this expansion. It would also be cool if they could have the option to combine a monthly muni pass with use of the bikes – might help take some pressure off muni during rush hour.

  12. Posted by curmudgeon
  13. Posted by Jake

    Their pricing is structured to charge for access, not the replacement cost of the bike. It is a scarce resource model (google Bellhead vs Nethead). In this case the scarce resource is the station network and the bikes. Similar to cell phone pricing, where the scarce resource is the cell tower/coverage and the bandwidth/spectrum – very valuable when nearby and not blocked, worthless when too far away or overcrowded. Similar to cell plans, they charge a fixed monthly fee for access/dialtone and prohibitive fees for overuse because overuse tends to starve other customers of the utility of the scarce resource (calls drop).

    When/if they have an abundant network and bike inventory, they could move toward more of a flat fee for access with unmetered use or nominal overcharge. Afterall, the more you use your ‘corporate branded’ bike, the more valuable the corp sponsorship/advertising becomes.

    FTR, the bogus zip codes in their data are for the customers not the stations.

  14. Posted by Anon

    Every December the MTA usually releases the annual San Francisco bicycle count. This year, the MTA claims they are still assembling “all the facts”. I would not be surprised if the bike count numbers are slipped on some website almost impossible to find so that nobody will notice the possibly embarrassing results. This hiding of negative biking results happened in Portland, Vancouver and even recently in New York City after bike usage declined or went flat. Is it possible the better economy allowed some people to purchase automobiles that were not vehicle owners before? For the record, I am FOR increased bike usage.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      i imagine their taking longer to Manipulate the data in order to meet their agenda

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