By Tony de Grata
The locations of the five stations in Ocean Beach where bike-share customers will be able to check out a comfortable, easy-to-ride three-speed should be revealed by the end of the month, according to Brian Genovese, senior engineer in the city’s Transportation and Stormwater Department.
The Ocean Beach stations will be among the 180 to be installed under a 10-year agreement between the city and Florida-based DecoBike, the company that won the contract last year to run a bike-share program in San Diego. The system should be up and running sometime this year, according to DecoBike press releases.
A draft of the Ocean Beach locations created a bit of a stir when presented last month to the Ocean Beach Town Council. Several citizens complained that, although one station was proposed near the Brighton Avenue restrooms, the other four were too tightly bunched around the Newport Avenue corridor west of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.
Nicole Burgess, who chairs Bike Walk San Diego District 2, a group of advocates dedicated to identifying and resolving issues related to bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, suggested Robb Field and the Voltaire Street and Point Loma Avenue business corridors as possible alternatives.
But Genovese said DecoBike is likely to place the stations where they’ll generate the most revenue from bike commuters looking for a “first mile, last mile” component of their journey. The company is obligated not only to fully fund the program but also pay the city a portion of its revenues, he said.
“The locations will have to support their business model,” Genovese said last week at a Bike Walk San Diego District 2 meeting. “We can make suggestions to the company, but it’s really a business decision on their part.”
To get to this point, DecoBike and the city held three town hall-style meetings to gather public input and explain the program, followed by a website portal that was available for 60 days for further comment, he said.
Currently, various city entities are vetting the locations to see if there are any conflicts with emergency access and maintenance operations. Once the DecoBike locations pass muster with the city’s internal review, they’ll be presented to community groups and shown online, he said.
Genovese shared other details on how the program will operate once all the pieces are in place:
- Bike users won’t have to worry about their pant leg getting caught in the chain – the bike will be shaft-driven. It’s a next-generation technology and San Diego will be the first city to use it in the DecoBike system. The bike will also feature a front-mounted basket, and front and rear lighting powered by the hub, not external batteries.
- An annual membership fee of $125 has been proposed, with a discounted rate for early-bird sign-ups. This would include 30 minutes of free riding. Conceivably, a user could string together a lengthy ride without additional charge by riding to another station within the 30-minute period. Otherwise a charge for a each additional 30 minutes would be assessed, possibly $4. A 60-minute riding interval may be available at a higher annual rate.
- DecoBike staff will move bikes between stations to make sure they don’t fill up – that way, a user would always have space to check in a bike upon arrival.
Possible cutline: Where’s the chain? There is none – the fleet DecoBike uses for San Diego’s bike-share program will be shaft-driven.