SF bike rental companies worried new proposal will hurt their business

San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency is set to consider expanding the number of Lyft bike rental locations. Some local bike rental companies worry about how the proposed expansion will impact their business.

There are a number of bike rental companies, such as Blazing Saddles, in the Fisherman's Wharf area; and they're worried that if Lyft continues to expand here it will kill their business.

For many visitors, no visit to San Francisco would be complete without a bike trip across the Golden Gate Bridge

That's where Jeff Sears comes in; he turned his love of biking into a business, Blazing Saddles.

"It's a really great way to help people have a great time while visiting San Francisco," said Sears.

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But now after four decades in the biking business, Sears says he's facing a proverbial David and Goliath battle. Bike rideshare companies like Lyft are growing and edging him out. 

"What it has morphed into is competing with private companies for the recreation bicyclist," said Sears.

Now he says that tension is reaching a breaking point. Friday, the SFMTA is set to consider adding two new bike share stalls in the middle of Fisherman's Wharf.

 "The location of the two stations is going to be adjacent to several different bike rental companies," said Sears. "Directly across from tourist hotels, and is going to have a major negative impact on our and many of the other bike rental companies."

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The SFMTA says the purpose of the hearing is to get the public's input on the idea of adding the two locations, and that the reasoning behind the new locations is to address an uptick in the number of abandoned bike share bicycles.

The agency says it's dedicated to making sure the legacy bike rental companies thrive and that "the SFMTA sees bike-share and bike rentals working harmoniously to provide the public with affordable access to bikes."

"Bikeshare is ideal for short duration trips (45min and under), and bike rentals are ideal for longer trips (over an hour)," according to SFMTA.

Sears says he's asking for a fair shake for his business and other bike rental businesses around San Francisco against a multi-billion dollar company. 

"We have tried for years to work out a plan with the MTA for messaging that will be beneficial for customers deciding are they needing a bicycle for transportation needs or for recreational," said Sears.

KTVU also reached out to Lyft to get their side of this story. 

"Over the past two years, Lyft has worked closely with the local community and SFMTA to bring the Bay Area's public bikeshare system to the Fisherman's Wharf in a way that reflects community input and fills in critical gaps in the Bay Wheels network," said Jordan Levine from Lyft Transit, Bikes and Scooters.

Levine said adding the new stations will increase overall bike parking and ensure bikes are parked neatly.

The SFMTA is set to take up the issue of adding the new bike stalls at 10 a.m. Friday.