Ford GoBike rental business stirs concern among some San Francisco bike rental firms

San Francisco bicycle rental companies worry that a bike share company is trying to steal their business. They say Ford GoBike's new low pricing system is a bold attempt to undermine their profits, by targeting their customers, which are tourists, when it promised to focus only on commuters.

Blazing Saddles Rental Bike shop owner Jeff Sears believes the Ford GoBike has been treading on his turf in Fisherman's Wharf lately.

"We really feel that we were blindsided," admitted Sears.

GoBike, which is run by bike-share service Motivate recently revealed its GoPass: a $15 ticket to ride unlimited three-hour trips within 24 hours.

Motivate is supposed to dominate the commuter niche but this latest pricing model says otherwise to Sears.

"Now that they're targeting the visitor market, we really feel that that's encroaching on our livelihood," said Sears.

"We don't want the Ford Motor Company and Motivate to do to our small mom and pop bike rentals, that employ locals, what Uber did to the taxi industry," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents District 13, which is comprised of Fisherman's Wharf.

"Everyone needs to stay in their lanes. And it means... it means that they should not cannibalize the tourist industry at Fisherman's Wharf, they should not be locating their facilities down and around Jefferson Street," said Peskin.

Mayor Ed Lee agreed with Peskin, telling KTVU in an email, "Tourism is the largest industry in San Francisco and the small businesses who serve our visitors are essential to the economy and the city. We will not allow a company to come into our city and threaten the livelihood of those small businesses."

Sears says months ago bike rental companies agreed to Motivate's five proposed sites for bike share pads near Fisherman's Wharf but now they regret it.

SFMTA also provides bike share pads to Motivate for free throughout San Francisco.

Sears said he pays $25,000 a month to lease his space on Beach Street.

"We don't think this is fair," said Sears.

Motivate insisted that they are not after Sears' and other rental companies' business.

"Bike share is really about short term trips," said Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, Motivate's Outreach and Communications Manager. "Again [we're] mostly for locals and we do know that some visitors like to connect to neighborhoods but we are not in the business of doing all day trips and serving guided tours like the rental companies can,"

The controversy comes as Motivate is getting ready to increase its fleet from 700 to 7,000 bikes next week.

As a gesture of good faith, the company says it's removed references to riding bikes to the Golden Gate Bridge from GoBikes' explore SF webpage.

Discussions between Motivate, SFMTA and local bike rental companies continue behind closed doors.