S.F. supervisor pushes for expansion of city's bike share program

SAN FRANCISCO -- Just weeks after the Bay Area launched a pilot bike share program, a San Francisco supervisor is pushing to expand the program citywide by the end of next year or, he says, risk failure.

Bay Area Bike Share – which allows people to sign up for an annual membership or check out a bike for three days or 24 hours using a key fob or electronic code – began late last month with 700 bikes in five Bay Area cities. There are 350 in San Francisco with the others scattered through Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto and San Jose.

The pale green bikes are restricted to the city’s financial district and South of Market (i.e., flat) neighborhoods. And while the number of bikes in the city is expected to increase to 500 by the end of this year, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener on Tuesday called for a hearing next month on a much greater expansion.

New York’s program, which is privately funded, launched earlier this year with 6,000 bikes, Wiener notes. He maintains that San Francisco needs 2,000 more bikes in a citywide system in order to truly be successful – even if that means breaking off from the regional effort to go it alone.

“Bay Area Bike Share has been an exciting addition to our city streets and a welcome transit option,” Wiener said. “But to truly reap the full benefits of this program – like reducing traffic, improving public transit and stimulating the local economy – and to ensure its viability, we need to act promptly to expand bike sharing throughout San Francisco.”

He plans to call on the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency at the October hearing to provide data on the pilot program including “number of rides, rides per bike, and membership totals,” and provide expansion plans for “a full build-out of the system, including cost, locations, and funding strategy.”

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