News: Bike Share Program Offers Quick, Eco-Friendly Transportation

Photo Credit: Angela Lai

A Bay Area Bike Share station outside of Palo Alto Bicycles on University Ave offers an eco-friendly way to travel short distances.

Bay Area Bike Share installed its first station in San Jose about a month ago, signalling the beginning of a pilot project “in a partnership among local government agencies including the Air District, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Sam-Trans, [and] Caltrain.” It now has 700 bikes and 70 stations across the Bay Area, including 5 stations in Palo Alto, 6 in Redwood City, and 35 in San Francisco, in a system that its site refers to as “the first of its kind in an extended metropolitan area.”

Unfortunately for most M-A students, you need to be at least 18 years old to use one of the bikes. The law does not require adults to wear bike helmets and because the stations are fully automated, helmets are unavailable though strongly recommended.

Otherwise, anyone with a debit or credit card can take one way trips from one Bike Share station to another by purchasing membership online or at a station. Membership guarantees unlimited 30 minute bike trips with extra charges for overtime. The options include 24-hour membership at $9 and annual membership at $88, which will soon be available for $99 if paid in monthly installments of $8.25.

Members can look to the free CycleFinder App for Android and IOS for help planning routes, meaning that even inexperienced bike riders can try Bike Share with some assurance. It promises a “clean, affordable, healthy, and fun” method of travel and it seems ideal for high school or college students who often lack their own means of transportation. Other systems like Citi Bike in NYC and Nice Ride in Minnesota have age restrictions of 16 — perhaps Bay Area Bike Share will eventually follow suit.

The program launched on August 29th and hopes to introduce approximately 300 more bicycles and 30 more stations in its second phase during spring 2014. As for whether we can expect bike sharing to come closer to M-A, Tom Flannigan, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, told The Almanac: “The ideal Peninsula community for a bike-share program appears to be a busy cityscape that straddles the transportation corridor of Caltrain and El Camino Real. Menlo Park could meet the criteria needed to join, if and when the pilot expands into a permanent program.”