This report recommends the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approve a feasibility study for a San Francisco bicycle share program. Bicycle share programs are becoming increasingly popular in major cities throughout the world. Several European cities are leading the way, demonstrating such programs have several positive effects on urban cores. Bicycle share programs are not new. In fact, the Netherlands piloted their infamous ‘’white bicycle” program in the early 1960s.1 Bike share pro-

grams have developed significantly since this early initiative, and are now viable transportation policy measures.

A bicycle share program is a unique opportunity for San Francisco to improve its transportation infrastructure and become more environmentally friendly. Amazingly, the most recent models of bike share programs come at no cost to the city. The program itself, as you will see, has numerous benefits for the city. Many cities in Europe and Asia have successfully implemented bike share programs. Now is the time to explore a bike share program for San Francisco.

company such as, Clear Channel or JC Decaux. Initially, a city signs a contract to implement a bicycle share program with a large advertising conglomerate. The company agrees to pay for the cost of the system, implementation, the bicycles, kiosks, transformation of parking spaces into a bike share station, and any other costs.3 In exchange for advertisement rights the city receives a bike share program. The advertisements may be on city billboards, the bikes themselves, or any other available space. In addition to the bike share program, cities normally receive the revenue generated by program.4 This report seeks to persuade the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to allocate funds for a feasibility study concerning a bicycle share program for the city. Bicycle sharing programs are not new, and are already in place in other cities using the

In recent years, European cities developed a new model of bicycle share, which take advantage of current technology and media conglomerates. These bicycle share programs are based on a public private partnership and are wildly successful.2 The model entails a partnership with a private

Banner Image Source: Cedric Bonhome, ”Velib,” Wikipedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vélib%27.jpg (accessed Dec ember 9, 2008). 1 David Holtzman, “Share-a-Bike,” Planning, May 2008, 21. 2 Luc Nadal, “Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris of Its Feet,” Sustainable Transport 19 (Fall 2008): 10-11. 3 Ibid. 4 Holtzman, “Share-a-Bike,” 24.


public partnership model. This report will demonstrate the need for a feasibility study by examining how bicycle share programs work and the benefits of such programs. Figure 1: Kiosk and Bicycles at a Self-Service Station

the world: Rennes, Amsterdam, Vienna, Lyon, Oslo, Brussels, Stockholm, Helsinki, Barcelona, London, Seville, and Paris.7 The new generation of bicycle share takes advantage of technology. Automated systems keep operating costs down, and are a key component to the model. At each station, users sign up for memberships via automated kiosks. Next the user receives a pass code, which allows access to bicycles throughout the network.8 The membership cost is a nominal fee charged on either a yearly, monthly, or weekly rate. As a member, the user has the ability to pick up and leave a bike at any station around the city.9 The first half hour is usually free, then each additional half-hour the user is charged on a sliding scale. Table 1 provides a sample fee structure. Moreover, the user pays a refundable deposit in order to safeguard against theft. The incremental increase in usage costs is designed to encourage short trips. Table 1: Rental Costs for Velib Bicycle Share
Time Period Incremental Charge Free $1.30 $2.60 $5.20 Total Charge $0 $1.30 $3.90 $9.00

Source: Project for Public Spaces, “Paris on Two Wheels”, Project for Public Spaces, http://www2.pps.org/news/archive/2008/04/ (accessed December 10, 2008).

Most current models of bicycle share programs work using automated kiosks. Much like ATM’s, the user pays for the service by credit card at a kiosk.5 Kiosks and available bicycles comprise self service stations, strategically placed throughout the city.6 Figure 1 illustrates an example of a self-service station, with a kiosk and bicycles available for loan. Stations are usually created by removing parking spaces and building bike share infrastructure in its place. However, other methods are possible, which may be more suitable for San Francisco. The automated self-service stations are very successful and are used in the following cities around
5 6

First 30 minutes Second 30 minutes Third 30 minutes (1-1.5 hours) Every half hour increment afterwards

Source: Nadal, “Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris Off Its Feet,” 9. Note: Data is based on the Paris bicycle share program, known as Velib. The monetary values are converted from Euros. Usage costs are in addition to a membership fee and a deposit to prevent theft.

Nadal, “Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris of Its Feet,” 9. Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid.


The location of the stations is crucial. Station loca- “bike sharing lets people make short trips of a few tion is one of the most challenging aspects of de- miles in a densely developed area served by other signing a bike share program.10 Stations should be forms of transit.”11 A bicycle share program can act located near transit centers, points of interest, pub- as the catalyst for a change in transportation mode lic spaces, and parks in order to maximize ridership. choice and reduce traffic in San Francisco. It is very important for the user to find stations easily Figure 2: A Self-Service Station throughout the city, so bikes can be returned at the leisure of the user. Using the public private partnership model and existing technology, a bicycle share program can bring several benefits to the city of San Francisco. Now that we have examined how bicycle share programs work, let us next turn to the several benefits of a bicycle share program.

Bicycle shares can reduce auto dependency, alleviate traffic, successfully work with other policy measures, improve air quality and pollution, and generate revenue. A bicycle share program fosters new cycling enthusiasts, helping to reduce auto dependency in the city. Public bike access provides an alternative choice of transportation for San Franciscans. The aim is to make bicycles a viable option for short trips, previously made using an automobile. The program makes bicycles available to public, many of who may never have thought to cycle. Encouraging bicycle ridership can reduce the number of cars on the road and in turn alleviate traffic. A bicycle share program will alleviate congestion in the urban core of the city. Bike share seeks to create alternative choices for shorter trips, previously taken using either a form of motorized or public transit. A sustainable planning expert contends:
10 11

Source: Chain Reaction Bikes, “Velib,” Chain Reaction Bikes, http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/view?q=velib&uname=ChainR eactionBicycles&psc=G&cuname=ChainReactionBicycles&filte r=1#5096865817151259890 (accessed December 10, 2008).

The implementation of a bicycle share program should be in conjunction with other planning techniques. It is evident from recent policy initiatives and projects, the city of San Francisco is moving towards a more sustainable city. Some of these projects pushing green policy are the Market-Octavia Plan, Academy of Sciences, the Transbay Terminal and accompanying redevelopment plan, and most recently the possibility of a congestion pricing system. A bike share program can help to supplant the need for an automobile and make such policy initiatives and projects more successful. Bicycle shares have environmental benefits. Zero-emissions vehicles, such as bicycles, reduce greenhouse gases. Thus a bicycle share program improves air quality and pollution in San Francisco. A share program is an effective way to get more

Nadal, “Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris of Its Feet,” 10. Holtzman, “Share-a-Bike,” 23.


bikes on the road and contribute to an environmentally sustainable society. A bike share program will also generate revenue for the city. The public private partnership model comes at no cost the city. In exchange for advertising space, it is possible to contract a private company to fully fund a bike share program. Furthermore, the revenue gained from the membership and share fees is allocated to the city. It is estimated Paris will net over 30 million Euros (38 million US dollars) a year in revenue from its bicycle share program.12 Though San Francisco will be hard pressed to match this revenue stream due to the difference in population between the two cities. However, it is reasonable to assume the city can generate millions of dollars from a bike share program. A feasibility study will assess the revenue opportunities for the city. Figure 3: Bicycle Share in Use

gestion, dovetail with current policy initiatives, improve air quality and pollution, and generate revenue. With more bikes available to the public, San Francisco can make strides in becoming a sustainable city with alternative transportation choices. The benefits of a bike share program demonstrate the need for a feasibility report to explore bike share opportunities for San Francisco.

The public private partnership works successfully in other cities. This model demonstrates how easy implementation is, at no cost to the local government. Also, the city has a history with similar deals in place with Clear Channel. However, the city could seek to form a deal with another company. The competitive bidding process for advertisement rights is a positive development for the city.13 Bike share implementation is attractive to both citizens and lawmakers because it is an urban amenity that will come at no cost.14 The city is currently working on a Bicycle Master Plan to improve infrastructure, lanes, and other bicycle related amenities. A bike share program will allow those without a bike to take advantage of such improvements and make the plan worthwhile to all citizens. There is sufficient evidence to support the claim that more San Franciscans will ride bikes if the bike share program is implemented. For example, in Lyon, France 96% of participants in the bike share program had never used a bike in the city center before.15 This report examined the public partnership model of bike share. Furthermore, it sought to persuade the Board of Supervisors to approve a feasibility

Source: Josh’s Public Gallery, “Paris 2007,” Picassa WebAlbums, http:// lh5.ggpht.com/_ZvlTkWwbUJI/RwLuKAneRYI/AAAAAAAACFM/ oAwJFvbtEs0/P1010040.JPG (accessed December 15, 2008).

The bicycle share program has numerous benefits. Quite simply the city can improve its transportation system, the environment, and the economy. Bike share can reduce auto dependency, alleviate con12 13

Nadal, “Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris of Its Feet,” 10. Nadal, “Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris of Its Feet,” 11. 14 Ibid. 15 Holtzman, “Share-a-Bike,” 24.


study through detailing how bike share programs Table 2: Parisian Bike Share at a Glance work and the numerous benefits from a program. As San Francisco develops new policy measures, NAME OF SYSTEM Velib lawmakers must consider a bicycle share program as an intriguing transportation alternative. The arCITY POPULATION 2.15 million guments put forth in this report urge the Board of Supervisors to approve a feasibility study in order LAUNCHED July, 2007 to more closely examine a bike share program for 10,000 (20,000 estimated by San Francisco. BICYCLES
the end of 2008) 750 Year-round Smartcard (Smartcards can be purchased in a variety of places, including kiosks at the stations) JC Decaux SELF-SERVICE STATIONS BIKE AVAILABILITY


Source: The Forum for Urban Design and Storefront for Art and Architecture, “Exploring Bike-Shares In Other Cities,” The New York Bike-Share Project, http://www.nybikeshare.org/ (accessed December 9, 2008).


Bonhome, Cedric. “Velib.” Wikipedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vélib%27.jpg (accessed December 9, 2008). Chain Reaction Bikes.”Velib.” Chain Reaction Bikes. http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/view?q=velib&un ame=ChainReactionBicycles&psc=G&cuname=ChainReactionBicycles&filter=1#50968658171 51259890 (accessed December 10, 2008). The Forum for Urban Design and Storefront for Art and Architecture. “Exploring Bike-Shares In Other Cities.” The New York Bike-ShareProject. http://www.nybikeshare.org/ (accessed December 9, 2008). Holtzman, David. “Share-a-Bike.” Planning, May 2008. Josh’s Public Gallery. “Paris 2007.” Picassa Web Albums. http://lh5.ggpht.com/_ZvlTkWwbUJI/RwLu KAneRYI/AAAAAAAACFM/oAwJFvbtEs0/P1010040.JPG(accessed December 15, 2008). Nadal, Luc.”Bike Sharing Sweeps Paris of Its Feet.” Sustainable Transport 19 (Fall 2008): 8-13. Project for Public Spaces. “Paris on Two Wheels”, Project for Public Spaces. http://www2.pps.org/ news/archive/2008/04/ (accessed December 10, 2008).


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