The City of Angels has seen much in the way of bicycle improvement in past years, including new bicycle lanes, a master plan for the county, and greater connections to surrounding communities. The next big step in making Los Angeles — a city that still happily embraces the automobile — is bike sharing, which will arrive later this year.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced at this month’s at CicLAvia, a bicycle event held in downtown Los Angeles, a new private venture that is being funded by Bike Nation, which will provide the first widespread bike-sharing program in the region. “Developing a bike sharing program in any community is a big step,” Derek Fretheim, Chief Operating Officer of Bike Nation told BikeRadar. “These programs don't really exist and are new to the American culture. It's even a larger step in the Western United States, specifically, Los Angeles because of its car centric culture.”
This bike share service will install 400 rental kiosks throughout communities in Los Angeles, and provide 4,000 bicycles for short-term use. These kiosks will be placed in downtown Los Angeles, Venice Beach, Hollywood and on the UCLA campus this fall.
This will be the second largest bicycle share program in the country, following New York City's 10,000-bike/600-station system scheduled to launch this summer. “Right now we are highly focused on the 400 kiosks and 4,000 bike plan for Downtown, Hollywood, Westwood and Venice Beach,” said Fretheim. “While we plan to expand, we see the initial launch as the most immediate priority.”
A Bike Nation rental bike out on the town
Fees for renting the bicycles will be based on the amount of time it is used, with the first half-hour free, and a charge of $1.50 for an hour, or $6 for a 24 hour pass. GPS technology will be used to track the bikes.
Fretheim believes this could turn car centric Los Angeles into a more bicycle-friendly city. “If you study existing bike share programs that have launched in the US over the past four years, you will see that bicycling has increased,” he added. “We believe that too will happen in Los Angeles.”
As goes Los Angeles often does the state, and as goes California often does the country. To this end, Bike Nations’ CEO believes if they can make it work in Los Angeles, it can work anywhere in America. “There are a number of discussions about a host of bike initiatives in LA,” said Fretheim. “It’s a very big county and there are 88 cities who are seeing cycling in different ways. Twenty years ago, city planners and traffic engineers discounted cycling as a recreation activity. That mindset is changing very quickly at the policy making levels. With events like CICLAVIA, the opportunity is wide open for a number of bike initiatives.”