Streetsblog broke the surprise news over the weekend that Los Angeles has made an agreement with Bike Nation to create a big new bike sharing program for the city. According to Mayor Villaraigosa's explanation of the deal at a press conference this weekend, Bike Nation "promises to pay for all of the 4,000 bikes and 400 kiosks coming to Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Venice Beach and Westwood." Bike Nation will invest $16 million in the program. When fully installed (installation is expected to take place over about a year), the bike share program would be the second largest in the nation. Washington DC and San Francisco both have systems with 1,200 bikes, Chicago has 3,000 bikes, and New York City will soon launch a system with 10,000 bikes. According to Bike Nation, users buy a membership, then swipe a credit/debit card at a kiosk and pick out a bike (frequent users can tap a key)--the first 30 minutes are free. Bikes can then be returned to any docking station in the system. BN also has a mobile app and an online station map that show which stations have bikes or open docks for returns.
According to Streetsblog, the idea of a bike share program briefly gained traction in 2008, but the Department of Transportation ixnayed the idea due to concerns about an influx of inexperienced bike riders hitting the streets. Mayor Villaraigosa explained at Sunday's press conference that the city has made sufficient strides in the last four years to handle such a program: "We're building the infrastructure; we're making it safe and practicable." The county of Los Angeles, for its part, launched a countywide bike share planning effort back in January of this year.
· Surprise! City Announces Massive Bike Share Program Coming in December [Streetsblog]
· Metro's Plan to Link Up All the County's Bike Sharing Programs [Curbed LA]