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SLO City leaders hope bike-share program would reduce vehicle use

Posted at 6:43 AM, Oct 01, 2019

Bike Share programs that allow people to pay per mile or by the minute to ride are popular in big cities like San Francisco and L.A. and now San Luis Obispo city leaders want to implement the program as part of a plan to reduce vehicle use.

The San Luis Obispo City Council approved a plan in 2014 to work toward a goal of increasing bicycle use to 20 percent of all citywide travel by 2035.

Biking currently makes up 8 percent of all trips in town, according to data provided by the City. But city leaders believe bike-share programs like Jump and Zagster could shift residents away from vehicles.

Citywide surveys, though, show access to a bicycle is not a major reason people opt not to ride. According to the survey, bicycle infrastructure and safety are two main barriers to riding.

Regardless, a discussion planned for Tuesday night's council meeting will give the community a chance to weigh in on the bike-share program.

City leaders are not considering scooter's like Bird or Lime, which were banned by the city last year.

But council is partnering with Cal Poly to incorporate a bike-share program. Data shows popularity among this mode of transportation is on the rise, with 36.5 million trips recorded nationwide last year.

Those numbers are promising to San Luis Obispo city leaders who are eager to reduce reliance on vehicles.

"The city is just looking for any type of way to make that goal work," SLO City Active Transportation Manager Adam Fukushima said. "We're already working a lot on infrastructure improvements, things like protected bike ways, expanding our trail network, and bike-share is just another way of helping that out."

The Tuesday discussion will also consider what time of docking system to use. Some programs allow for the rentable bikes to be discarded anywhere, others require a specific docking site.

"UCSB has a system where you park a dockless bike in a designated zone, that's sort of marked off and painted off," Fukushima said. "It's something council could consider. You could also allow a bike to be parked next to a bike rack, just like a personally owned bike."

The city of Santa Cruz is considered a model for San Luis Obispo's program. Santa Cruz recorded 11,000 bike trips in 2018 compared to over 40,000 trips in 2019, after the bike-share program became available.

The program that's approved by the council is expected to be implemented late 2020.