A small test fleet of loaner bicycles, accessible with the flick of a library-like card, could be on its way to Palo Alto, the City Council decided Monday night.
Council members Yoriko Kishimoto and Sid Espinosa proposed evaluating a bike-sharing program after listening to a recent presentation by Library Bike, an Arcata-based organization that manages public bicycling programs in several communities.
The council voted 7-0 (with Yiaway Yeh and Greg Schmid absent) to have staff research the concept and return with a recommendation this fall.
Kishimoto and Espinosa suggested adopting a $65,000, six-month trial with 20 bikes based out of a central facility and operated by Library Bike.
Yet other bike programs will have a chance to bid, if Palo A;to decides to enact a permanent bike-loaner program, Mayor Larry Klein said.
According to Library Bike's proposal for a trial, anyone could purchase a card for $11 a month or $29 for six months, giving them access to the bike shed and the ability to borrow a bike for up to two hours. After that, hourly charges would accrue.
The bikes, hand-me-downs from a successful Paris bike-sharing program, would include electronic monitors, but there's a catch: Library Bike estimates one-third will be stolen and one-third vandalized each year.
Loaner bikes would work best for Palo Alto's workers who want to commute from the train station to an office, for example, Councilman Pat Burt said. Therefore, a program with a single drop-off location and two-hour limit isn't likely to succeed, he said.
"Paris' success was not overnight," Kishimoto said. With more money, the city could expand the program and tailor it to Palo Alto needs.
Burt said the Senior Games, coming to Palo Alto in August 2009, plan to include a bike-sharing program, perhaps sparking community interest in the concept.