OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) – A proposed expansion of the Bay Area Bike Share Program means San Francisco and the East Bay could benefit with the addition of up to 7,000 new bikes by the end of 2017.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission launched a pilot program of the bike sharing system in August 2013 in San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.
The program provides a fleet of bicycles for affordable, easy short-term rentals from docking stations 24 hours a day.
The proposed addition of 7,000 bikes is a big change from the 700 bikes currently being used in the pilot program. It also means Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville would get bikes for the first time.
"We really need shared bikes in the East Bay," Peter Rumsey, a bike share rider from Oakland said. "In Berkeley… Oakland… there's not a lot of bikes over there."
Randy Rentschler with the MTC said expansion would be in partnership with Motivate, a bike sharing company. Motivate plans to find a private investor to fund the program's substantial expansion, meaning it will not cost taxpayers a dime.
"We think we can make this bike share system work here like it has in New York and Washington, D.C. and our benefit is that we have better weather than they do so we're hopeful," Rentschler said.
Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz with the San Francisco Bike Coalition said their group is excited.
"We're expecting up to 4,500 bikes [in San Francisco] and this would give us the density and convenience that the system really needs to be successful," he said.
Executive Director of Bike East Bay Renee Rivera echoed the excitement. "Even with the limited number of bike share stations and bicycles we have currently, bike share has proven immensely popular," said Renee Rivera, executive director of Bike East Bay.
"This expansion means many more residents will be able to bridge key gaps in getting around without a car; for example taking a bike share bicycle to quickly get to a BART station that's not within walking distance."
At just $9 for a day rental or $88 for an annual membership, the bike additions should serve as yet another form of major transportation in the Bay Area.
"It's such a nice way to interact with the cities compared to getting in a cab or getting on a bus," Rumsey added. "I love it."
The MTC will consider the expansion next week and vote on it later this spring. If approved, more of these bikes could be installed in 2016 and 2017.