After overcoming several obstacles, the San Francisco Bay Area will begin a pilot bike sharing program that will be the first regional bike sharing program in the country. The pilot program, which will be run by Alta Bike Share, is set to launch this summer with 70 locations and 700 bikes from San Jose to San Francisco.
With a lot of support from the regions municipal governments and transit agencies, and led by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, this pilot bike sharing program will give them the opportunity to evaluate its potential to reduce vehicle traffic and improve local air quality.
Expected to launch in August, the new bike sharing program is expected to begin with two phases. In the first phase, 700 bicycles and 70 kiosk stations will be deployed around the Bay Area. Then, 3 to 6 months later, additional equipment will be deployed to grow the fleet to 1,000 bicycles. So far, numerous communities are looking forward to taking part in the program, such as San Francisco, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose.
The bike share sites will be placed around Caltrain with an estimated 50 locations just in downtown San Francisco, and about two dozen around Caltrain stations in Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose.
In order to have a successful bike sharing program, an optimal distribution of bikes is needed (ideally around 50% bikes to 50% open docks), with locations no more than ½ mile apart. Of course, affordability is key to promoting ridership.
Locating the bike sharing stations around Caltrain has the potential to change the state of commuting in the Bay Area. In the Bay Area, 80% of office buildings are located within three miles of transit. Yet only 11% of commuters use transit to get to work. This could give many commuters more reason to use rail service and use the bike share to finish out their journey to work. BART riders may also benefit from the bike share locations, since they are not allowed to bring bicycles on trains during rush hour.