City officials warn Chinese bikeshare company not to launch in SF without permits

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)— San Francisco city officials are warning a Chinese bikesharing firm known for placing large numbers of bicycles on city streets without permanent stations not to proceed with a rumored expansion to San Francisco without proper permits.
   
Ed Reiskin, the city's head of transportation, and Mohammed Nuru, head of public works, sent a letter Monday to Gang Li, chief executive officer of Bluegogo International Inc., addressing reports that the company plans to expand to San Francisco.
   
The letter asks the company to provide information on its plans and warns that it will need to obtain permits for any business operations or installation of infrastructure and comply with all local laws.
   
"We will not tolerate any business model that results in obstruction of the public right of way or poses a safety hazard," the letter states.
   
The letter also notes that while the city supports bike sharing, it has entered into a 10-year agreement giving exclusive rights to use the public right of way for bike sharing purposes to Bay Area Motivate, LLC.
   
Unlike the bikesharing program currently operating in San Francisco, Bluegogo does not operate from kiosks. Instead, the company simply places large numbers of bikes at various locations on city streets. Users can locate and unlock them with an app and leave them anywhere for the next user.

Bluegogo has not formally announced plans to expand to San Francisco, but the company does appear to be hiring in the area. In an ad posted on AngelList, a web site for startups, the company says it is looking to fill 11 to 50 positions in San Francisco and in the Bay Area.
   
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition on Thursday sent a letter to Mayor Ed Lee calling on the city to take action in advance of the company's launch.
   
"The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is deeply concerned about the impact of this planned launch on the accessibility of the public realm, as well as on the health and safety of all San Franciscans," the letter from coalition Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier states.
   
The city's current bike share program includes safety and cleanliness standards and performance indicators to ensure a functional and accessible program, the coalition said.
   
"Conversely, Bluegogo's model would leave thousands of uninspected and unpermitted bicycles to be stored unattended for long periods of time on sidewalks, in parks and on our streets," Wiedenmeier said, saying the company would create a "serious public nuisance."
   
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who first sounded the alarm about the bike share company's plans, last week, plans to hold a press conference tomorrow with the coalition.
   
Bluegogo officials have not yet responded to a request for comment.
 

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