Will bike-sharing work on Peninsula? | September 11, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - September 11, 2013

Will bike-sharing work on Peninsula?

by Dave Boyce

Getting around on the crowded streets of downtown Redwood City could be easier and less stressful with the Aug. 29 launch of Bay Area Bike Share. The pilot program, set to run over the next year or two, will test the popularity and practicality of some 700 teal-blue rental bikes installed along the Peninsula, including in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.

With a credit card, Bike Share members in Redwood City with an errand to run, a job to get to, or a train to catch can unlock a low-slung, easy-handling, seven-speed bike from a docking station at one of five downtown locations and pedal off to another station, where they then re-lock the bike and go about their business. The stations are far enough away to save time, but close enough to each other and to centers of activity to be useful and to accomplish one-way trips in less than 30 minutes.

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, said Tom Flannigan, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Redwood City, the only community in San Mateo County to be participating, has five rental stations and 70 bikes initially (growing to 100 in the second phase). The five stations are concentrated downtown, where county and city public employees gather, and are easily within a 30 minute ride of each other, said Jessica Manzi, the city's transportation manager.

Palo Alto and Mountain View have five Bike Share stations, and there are 14 in San Jose and 34 in San Francisco. The Bay Area program is the first to distribute bikes along an extended metropolitan corridor, according to the website of Bay Area Bike Share.

In coordination with the county, the San Mateo County Transit District and Caltrain, Redwood City had been working steadily on last-mile projects: getting public transportation commuters closer to the doors of their destinations. The city already offers the Zipcar car-sharing program and van pools for public employees, Ms. Manzi said. Bike-sharing was also on the table.

When the opportunity came along to join the Bike Share pilot, Redwood City was ready and applied for and received a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Ms. Manzi said. More bike lanes are coming to the city as streets are being resurfaced, she added.

The pilot, modeled on programs in major cities in the United States and Europe, aims to help Caltrain, BART and ferry commuters get to and from inner-city workplaces, and to help anyone in the inner city run errands quickly and cleanly, in terms of environmental impact.

The bikes are regularly maintained, designed for safe and easy riding on flat terrain, and are equipped with lights, bells, fenders, chain guards and a small carrier mounted on the handlebars. They even have internal gears that can be shifted while sitting still.

The air-quality district is one of several Bay Area public agencies funding the pilot, according to the Bike Share website. Others include the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrain, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and San Mateo County.

As a member, you can take as many 30-minute trips as you like within the limits of your membership, whether for a day ($9), three days ($22) or a year ($88). You'll be on the hook for another $4 if you keep the bike for 60 minutes, and the cost jumps by $7 for each 30-minute window after that.

"It's intended to be a very safe way to help provide additional mobility options," said Karen Schkolnick of the air-quality district.

Go to bayareabikeshare.com for more information.


Posted by resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

The peninsula is the perfect place for bike share. The weather here is great year round. I can't remember the last time it was below 40 degrees during the day or even the last time that it rained. While there are some hills in the west, the vast majority of homes and businesses are located in the flatlands where even the most out-of-shape resident can easily bicycle.

Traffic is increasingly terrible along the peninsula and almost every city on the peninsula is struggling with inadequate downtown parking. Bicycles take up far less space on the roads and in parking lots. At bike share stations in Palo Alto, I see 20 bikes using the same space as 2 car parking spaces.

One of the leading reasons that people currently do not use their personal bicycles to run errands is bicycle theft. Local police departments say that bicycle theft is one of the most common crimes in the Bay Area (almost as bad as iphone theft). Bike share eliminates this problem by having secure docking stations at popular destinations around town.

The only major problem with bike share is that cities have to deploy enough stations to make the system useful. Palo Alto fails by having stations in only a couple of parts of town, effectively shutting the majority of city residents out of the system. I hope that Menlo Park does not make this same mistake. Stations must be deployed in all neighborhoods, providing a network that all residents can use.

Posted by Both Ways, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

So someone renting the bicycle will either need to carry a bike lock, which defeats the purpose as noted above and be on the hook if it IS stolen, or return to a different station which hopefully isn't full. Hopefully there are GPS trackers built in.

Anyhow, bicycles are considered motor vehicles, not pedestrians and are also required to follow the vehicle code just as motor vehicles. Too often cyclists weave through stopped traffic only to ride into the cross walk and then down a sidewalk in the wrong direction. They should also pass a vehicles turning right on the vehicle's left, else T-Bone collisions will be rampant.

Unless there are public service campaign that reminds bicyclists and motorists alike of their respective responsibilities to one another, the rates of collisions are bound to increase.

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2013 at 5:01 pm

You are supposed to return these bikes to their kiosks, not lock them somewhere yourself. The idea is to return it to the pool when you are not riding it. For the moment the program is only useful for those getting off the train and going to a nearby location. If the program expands into neighborhoods it would have a much wider audience, but they are starting small.

By the way, bicyclists are NOT considered the same as motor vehicles under California law. The operator of a bicycle has the same rights and responsibilities as that of the operator of a VEHICLE (not a motor vehicle) under CVC Section 11, the rules of the road. The difference between a vehicle and a motor vehicle is important.

Posted by Both Ways, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Gee, page 60 of the English 2013 CA Driver hand book says, " Bicycles: Bicyclists " Have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle and motorcycle drivers" Strange....

The CA Driver Handbook further states Bicyclists Must obey all traffic signals and stop signs, Must ride in the same direction as other traffic,Shall ride as near to the right curb or edge and NOT on the sidewalk, Must make left and right turns in the same way drivers do using the same turn lanes, Must signal all their intentions to motorists and bicyclists near them and must have a white light.

Quite a few ignored responsibilities.

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm

The handbook is not the law; it is a paraphrasing of it that is known to be inaccurate in many cases (including this one). If you want to see the actual law, look at:
Web Link

The sidewalk rule depends on the city. There is no state prohibition on sidewalk bike riding. Each city is given the authority to regulate it as they feel, leading to a confusing mishmash of laws. As for the lights, you only need them if it is dark.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm

21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

Looks like bicycles have to follow the same laws other vehicles do to me.

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Yes, exactly. It says vehicles, not motor vehicles. That means that sections like 21952 that specifically say "motor vehicle" do not apply to bicycles.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I think the division to which the section refers includes motor vehicles and therefor bicycles are subject to the same regulations.

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm

The division is not relevant. What matters is the definitions. There are separate definitions for motor vehicle and vehicle in Division 1, which is the definition section:

415. (a) A "motor vehicle" is a vehicle that is self-propelled...

670. A "vehicle" is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

Clearly a bicycle is neither of these, but has its own definition:

231. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having one or more wheels. Persons riding bicycles are subject to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and 21200.5

A bicycle is not a vehicle, it is a device. In order to make the rules of the road apply to bicycles section 21200 gives the operators of bicycles the same rights and responsibilities of operators of VEHICLES, not motor vehicles.

I don't understand why it is so difficult for people to understand that there is a difference between vehicles and motor vehicles and that there are different rules for the two (although most rules are the same).

This also has nothing to do with the bike share program.

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