News


Palo Alto's bike-share plan takes another turn

City prepares to sign contract with SoBi for 350-bike network

Palo Alto's effort to roll out a bike-share program for the community is set to take another turn Monday night, when the City Council considers a new proposal that would bring a 350-bike system to several areas of the city.

The proposed five-year contract between the city and the bike-share company Social Bicycles (SoBi) would establish 35 stations, each equipped with 10 "smart bikes." The city would pay $1,104,550 for the equipment, while SoBi would procure a system sponsor to handle the operational costs, according to a report from Department of Planning and Community Environment.

If approved, the new agreement would represent another change in direction for the city, which has been shopping around for a new bike-share operator for several months. Palo Alto's prior bike-share program, operated by Motivate, fizzled out of existence last fall after several years of meager usage. According to statistics from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and city staff, bikes in the program were taken for a ride just 0.17 times per day between September 2014 and 2015 (the industry standard is one ride per day).

Last fall, the council signaled its interest in signing a fresh contract with Motivate that would expand the program from 37 to 350 bikes and that would adopt “smart bikes” made by SoBi. Unlike the prior bike-share program, which relied on technology in the five bike hubs to track usage, the new one features GPS technology on the bikes themselves, which gives users more flexibility in picking up and dropping off the bikes.

Since then, however, negotiations between the city and Motivate collapsed, according to planning staff. Motivate reportedly changed its position on allocating revenues to neighboring communities to help offset operating costs, the staff report states. The company also was unable to meet the city's desired timeline and its "desired service levels with respect to daily maintenance, rebalancing and operations of the bike share system."

Because Motivate operates the regional Bay Area Bike Share program, Palo Alto officials were hoping that the new Palo Alto program can be integrated into the larger system, despite its reliance on different technology than is used elsewhere. But after further negotiations, Motivate was "uncertain in its ability to operate the two bike share systems seamlessly within the regional system with complete membership reciprocity and full access to the entire system," the new report states.

The new SoBi contract is similar in some respects to the Motivate proposal. Once again, the city would front the capital costs and the private vendor would take care of the operations. SoBi would handle all bike share siting and permitting, according to staff, and city would pay a $1,000 per-station fee (in the Motivate proposal, the price was $4,000 per station).

While the new vendor may make integration with the broader bike-share network complicated, the proposed contract calls for SoBi to "proactively pursue integration" with the Clipper 2.0 project undertaken by Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The project calls for creation of a "digital wallet" that would allow users to easily switch from various bike share and transit systems with one payment method.

SoBi, which already operates bike-share systems in San Mateo, Santa Monica, Phoenix and Portland, Oregon, would rely on sponsorship funds and membership fees. In San Mateo, fares for using bike share are $15 per month for one hour of daily ride time or $5 for a day pass. Palo Alto staff expect a similar rate structure here.

One question that has yet to be resolved is station location. Some hubs will inevitably be located in downtown, around California Avenue and at Stanford Research Park (which has expressed an interest in purchasing about 20 bikes). If the contract is approved, SoBi would conduct an outreach campaign to solicit community input, with the goal of maximizing ridership. Under the proposed timeline, the new program could be launched as early as July through a phased rollout that would begin downtown.

The five-year contract with SoBi also allows two three-year extensions, with the city having an option to add bikes and hubs in future phases. If things go as planned, the system would also expand beyond the city's borders. Mountain View and Redwood City have reportedly expressed interest in the proposed bike-share system and Palo Alto officials have been considering the potential for bringing bike share to the Stanford University campus.

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Comments

67 people like this
Posted by Kristin
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:14 am

"The city would pay $1,104,550 for the equipment, while SoBi would procure a system sponsor to handle the operational costs" Let me guess, the Federal Govt Sustainable grants program? "Palo Alto's prior bike-share program, operated by Motivate, fizzled out of existence last fall after several years of meager usage." No doubt! Palo Altans HAVE their own bikes. Nobody uses these! I was in downtown Phoenix and they fell for this bike share sca- er, "scheme". No one uses them there, either. They just won't be used. That million could be put to better use: perhaps more library books, better ones. Perhaps a day care program for the working poor that bus into P.A. or a shuttle van for the working persons that do not live in P.A. but have to drive long distances to come here. This bicycle thing is a dud.


72 people like this
Posted by Tsk
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

It's a big waste of money!

Not only do CalTrain riders mostly have their own bikes, but people in Palo Alto do, too-- and far better ones!

These bikes are not only too expensive-- people who NEED a bike can't afford to rent these on a regular basis-- but, they are also just miserable to ride! Hard to pedal due to lack of maintenance, stiff, and uncomfortable seats make them sure losers!


63 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:27 am

Ludicrous. For a city that's running a deficit, spending $1,000,000 on equipment plus a bunch of $150,000-$200,000 straight salary a year employees for program coordinators??

Those salary numbers came from the last article about this program when I took alook at all the unused bikes sitting in their racks near the Cal Ave station on a bright sunny day when you'd expect them to be used.

And WHY are we thinking of launching a bike program for well-endowed Stanford when the city's running a deficit??? What are we getting n return except for bigger budget deficit and higher unfunded pension liabilities??


59 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2017 at 11:11 am

PA roads are in urgent need of repair. Shouldn't the roads be fixed first? What good is it to have a bike renting program when the surface is not good even for the cars.


30 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

A lot of people refuse to commute by bicycle because their employers refuse to let bicycles in the building and if you park your bicycle on the street all day, it will get stolen.

In addition, many people don't take bicycles on Caltrain because they only need the bicycle on one side of their trip (eg they take a bus from home to Caltrain, then only need the bike for the last mile). Or they don't want to take their bicycle on the train because they've had bad experienced with being "bumped" (kicked off) trains when there is no space for their bicycle (very common during commute hours).

Palo Alto's previous attempt at bike share flopped because the price was too high for the level of service and the stations were too far from where most people live. Also the 30 minute rental period was too short if you wanted to take the bike to downtown Mountain View and there were no bike stations in Stanford or Menlo Park, so those areas were off limits. Can a new bike share system fix these problems and make the system usable to Palo Alto residents?


54 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

The source of this wastefulness is climate change alarmism. It runs through all levels of government in California. Basically it excuses anything they do, exorbitant taxation and irrational spending if it *might* do something to "encourage" people to drive their cars alone less, and ride bicycles instead.

They blindly let anything that is perceived as "helping the environment" override all other concerns. There is no cost-benefit analysis.

Such recklessness with taxpayer dollars, I believe ends up backfiring and ultimately hurting the environment.


39 people like this
Posted by Downtown Tech Worker
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2017 at 11:46 am

Yes, PA should expand bike use. One cost-effective way is to improve bike routes and intersections. Bikeshare is not cost-effective.

A professional colleague of mine, who also works downtown, studied the bikeshare market for a Fortune 500 company. "There are no use cases for bikeshare in PA. It’s too low density. If suburban residents bike, they own their bike. It’s not like urban bikesharing where people take the Washington DC metro into DC and then need a bike to make 20-block trips. Downtown Palo Alto is 6 blocks x 3 blocks - no one needs to bike within such a tiny downtown. There are no use cases for people working in PA job centers using a bike share. You won’t see Stanford Research Park workers bikesharing to Cal Ave for lunch. If a business traveler taking Caltrain to downtown has a series of Stanford meetings, then bikeshare could work – but Stanford would need to build out bikeshare infrastructure (and why would they do that when they have so much biking already?). I’ve discussed suburban bikeshare with four vendors. They confirmed my conclusions: There are no suburban bikeshare use cases."

PA should have the vendor present the use cases they foresee occurring in PA, along with any evidence of success in other suburban locations.


78 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 2:25 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

For one million dollars, the city could purchase 1,000 bicycles, and just leave tham around the city to be used for free. Instead we get a bloated program that provides stations with 10 bicycles you have to pay to use.

If you look at the usage of the current program, which is near zero, there is no justification in spending any money. If you care about bike usage, the space wasted for the pay to use programs would be better converted to bike racks so people have a place to lock up when they ride.


51 people like this
Posted by Tone Deaf
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Another example of local city officials "completely out of touch." Repair our infrastructure before you spend resident tax money on your pet projects.


54 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Do the math: 350 bikes at $1,100,000 = about $3142 per bike, maybe a bit less if you count the racks.

Absolutely nuts. Why are we buying commuters $3,142 bikes when the cops won't even try to recover for our own stolen bikes that probably cost way less???


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2017 at 4:13 pm

The success of this depends entirely on the placement of the bike stations and whether they can be used to go to Mountain View, Menlo, and further afield. Parking in Castro Street is just as difficult as downtown Palo Alto so the same system needs to take the same bikes to be attractive.

My family has spent too much time and money on bike maintenance and replacing bikes that have been stolen that I feel sure a good bike share program could be less expensive in the long run. A bike that always has air in its tires without the concern of theft if left at a public place has to be a big incentive. Nobody seems to want to leave an expensive bike at a Caltrain station or shopping area in case of theft and bikes at the schools are always being damaged in the bike racks as well as often stolen.

However, the council needs to choose the right system for it to work.


42 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I am under the impression, I believe from what the city has previously said about the existing bike program, that basically it is too poorly used to be a viable. I am unaware of any new data suggesting that that situation has changed, but the city is ready to spend $1M on an expansion of what has been a failed system?

This article discusses the new vendor at length, but seems to ignore the basic fact, or what I believe to be a fact, that the present system doesn't work, and there is no data to suggest that expanding it will improve that. What is the justification for spending so much money on this? Is this resume fluff, again, at the expense of tax payers.


57 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2017 at 5:06 pm

This is just NUTS. No wonder Trump won. Over $3000 per bike!!!


42 people like this
Posted by PA Resident 2
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

I agree with all the comments above. I dont even know what to say anymore about the city council. Each of their ideas belies a lack of common sense. They don't appear to have the best interests of PA in mind. Spending so much more on a program that has already failed due to reasons quoted above, is just throwing good money after bad. Adding more housing that will only worsen traffic and parking does utter disregard for improving PA. I had a hard time initially believing that the city council is in cahoots with special interests like developers (or in this case, with Motivate/SoBi), but am now beginning to think that it might indeed be the case. [Portion removed.]


36 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:22 pm

And the city wants us to vote for higher Storm Drain Fees, while they want to spend $1,000,000 on a bike share program that has failed in the past...


44 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:00 pm

"This bicycle thing is a dud."

Yeah, but it's a sexy dud. The objective is to brag about having a bike share program. Gets points. Whether it works or not is beside the point.


48 people like this
Posted by Cynjc
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:27 pm

A complete waste of money. Stop this folly now!


31 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 11:48 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

How about instead of dumping another million dollars into a program we already have proof doesn;t get used, we use the money to hire some extra police officers to help stop the rampant bike thefts that are happening in Palo Alto.


30 people like this
Posted by sandbox mentality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:11 am

The transportation staff considers Palo Alto their sandbox -to do what they want, in their own self-interest without regard to any impacts - on safety,traffic flow,aesthetics,neighborhood character,cost,or even standard engineering practices or common sense. The Jordan fiasco is a perfect example. The City Council allows this to go on. The appearance of doing something in response to growing traffic gridlock and unsafe streets,
except hiring more traffic cops, allows cover to continue to pursue pro-development policies, more of the same, and we are in a disastrous feedback loop in this City.


28 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

The Jordan fiasco exemplifies the lack of responsiveness of some City Council members AND the Transportation Dept. which is notorious for conducting its traffic "surveys" at the lightest times of day -- ie 10AM.

After a year and a half, we've yet to get a real response to complaints about traffic backing up to and INTO Oregon Expressway during afternoon rush hour now that they've eliminated left turns at the N. Cal Ave light because of the stupid bike lane and bollards.

To read the Mayor's letter that he plans on wasting more money on sharrows, roundabouts and other traffic impediments adds insult to injury.

I wholeheartedly support cecihome@gmail,com 's plans to distribute yard signs demanding that the Gang of 5 be held accountable to the residents and to stop the insanity of OUR paying for more than $3,000 for bikes while ours are being stolen.

Let thousands of yard signs bloom! Tell them enough.


35 people like this
Posted by Avid Cyclist
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

This is a waste of money with such minimal return on investment.


25 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2017 at 11:32 am

Annette is a registered user.

I hope Staff isn't dedicating much time to this. I also hope Staff is noting the many valid observations and suggestions in the previous comments. For me, this falls into the "Good Idea But So What" column b/c we already know that it didn't work well here AND the stations consumed much needed parking spots. I think this city can live w/o the brownie points it would get in some award tally for doing this sort of thing. We have much bigger issues to address.


30 people like this
Posted by Robert P
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2017 at 11:36 am

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Attributed to Albert Einstein


24 people like this
Posted by Robert P
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

This proposal is a corollary of the more general theorem: Not every idea is a good idea.


26 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2017 at 11:39 am

This is a perfect example of the progressive liberal mindset. Let's ram a wasteful program down the throats of people who don't want it or won't use it just to be a "leader" in converting people to alternative forms of transportation. Let's show everyone how Palo Alto is the center of the universe.

I pass the California Avenue @ Park Blvd. rental bike rack nearly everyday. I rarely see a bike missing from the rack. But they are baby blue pretty.


16 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm

I would be very happy if this program succeeds but my guess is that its a terrible waste of money. Talking to my friends and neighbors no one would use this and no one wants it.


34 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm

The real value of programs like this bike-share program are they can be cited in transportation studies and used to justify more building and/or more under-parked buildings.

Just another way for our local government to funnel tax dollars into thinly disguised subsidies for the real-estate development industry.


1 person likes this
Posted by Eric Bierce
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Awesome! Finally a decent Bike Share system in Palo Alto! SoBi runs a great system in Santa Monica that I use every week, even though I live five miles from Santa Monica.
My father lives in Palo Alto, around 1.5 miles from the nearest Caltrain station, so I'll be able to use this system every time I visit him (5-6 times a year). The existing Motivate system in Palo Alto is worthless because there's only a handful of hubs and none of them are anywhere near my father's neighborhood.
One of the great features of the SoBi system is that I can ride the bike directly to my father's house, and then ride it back to the train station when I leave. Even with the $2 out-of-hub fee, that's a great savings over taking Lyft.
Sign me up!!!


25 people like this
Posted by slud
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 27, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Well, I consider myself a progressive liberal and I think this is a really bad idea. I bike probably 100 mi/week and I agree that the money could be well spent on racks, so I would have somewhere to secure my bike at a destination. I've used bikes like these in other cities and yes, they are barely rideable - they are not a transportation solution and I don't see them ever being widely used. Build us some auto-free routes instead!


16 people like this
Posted by Donny
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Did anyone check with the local bike shops that rent bikes for assistance with a program like this or are we just going to screw them out of the opportunity? Social Bicycles is not even local, they're from NY. Also, biking around PA sucks butt.


8 people like this
Posted by Penny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Eric Bierce, if you're coming from Santa Monica to visit your dad, how do you manage your luggage on the bike? Also, if your dad is only 1.5 miles from the train station, why can't you walk? It only takes about 20 minutes to walk 1.5 miles and it's free.

Once you've arrived at your dad's house, what do you do with the bike? Do you just leave it at his house until you're ready to go home?


12 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm

While I am not a Palo Alto resident, I live in a neighboring town and I think the money would be better spent improving the infrastructure for cyclists.

That would encourage cycling more than these bike share programs at least for Peninsula cities like Redwood City, Palo Alto and Mountain View, where previous bike share programs failed.

Make cycling better for everyone, not just provide a set of wheels for the occasional commuter.


14 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 3:59 pm

One million for 350 bikes and racks.
Does that cover insurance on the bikes.
The possibility of 350 more inexperienced bikers running stop signs,riding on sidewalks.
Just think, at an expected usage of one unit per day that comes out to $2750 per ride. Just how is it going to make any money?


25 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Annette is a registered user.

32 Comments, 28 different people commenting, up to 51 likes and ONLY ONE positive comment - and that from someone from out of town. Even though this forum is not a scientific sampling of community opinion, it is probably representative of what the community thinks. It will be interesting to see if CC again ignores reality and approves a theory-based program that commits us to a 5 year contract for something that appears to be neither wanted or needed. And for which the industry standard is one ride per day.

CC and Staff: we've got a huge mess on our hands, please focus on what can actually be helpful. I sincerely doubt most residents care about awards.


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:50 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Eric Bierce - It sounds great to you because you are the beneficiary of a million dollar subsidy from the residents of Palo Alto. It's free money to you. If we killed the subsidy, and you had to pay the actual cost of the program to ride the bike to your Dad's house, you wouldn't be here cheerleading, you'd probably just keep taking Uber.


18 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:51 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

To vote to spend city money for this expensive trial program over so many competing and higher priority items the city needs to budget foris irresponsible fiscal management. And do they come with bike helmets? This is a law suit waiting to happen.


11 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 27, 2017 at 4:53 pm

This money needs to be spent on getting people to downtown and California Ave on public transit, rather than getting a very few people to bike around Palo Alto.


20 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2017 at 5:34 pm

Annette is a registered user.

We will likely read that this has been approved. CC agendas are prepared by the Mayor and City Manager and this contract is on the Consent Calendar. Including things on that part of the agenda is a favorite tactic b/c expenses can be approved w/o discussion. Sound familiar? Council can move to take this off the Consent Calendar but if that doesn't happen this contract is another done deal.

Hmmm . . . I wonder how many potholes could be filled with $1,104,550.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Please write to the city council and the city "management" and tell them how you feel about this!

city.council@cityofpaloalto.org


21 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 27, 2017 at 6:31 pm

I see almost everyone who's written thinks a new and bigger bike program is a waste of money. I'm a senior and I ride my bike all the time -- and I agree with them. People in Palo Alto won't use the system. I like the idea of taking the $1 million plus and putting it towards more police who can slow down the dangerous traffic in our neighborhoods. If our police gave more tickets for speeding and going through stop signs, biking would be much safer and more people would ride.
Another thought: If you rent a bike, you don't get a helmet! Who wants to carry a helmet and bike lock to another city in order to be safe and keep their rental bike locked? Please Palo Alto -- drop this idea.


Like this comment
Posted by Eric Bierce
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Penny: those are rather personal question but okay.
1) Sometimes I do walk the 1.5 miles, which takes me 30-35 minutes including waiting for traffic signals. I'm guessing that a ride on the Bike Share would take ~10 minutes. By the way time is valuable, and there are other places in Palo Alto and Mountain View that I like to visit, which are more than 1.5 miles from my dad's house.
2) My choice of parking location would depend on the locations of the bike hubs. If there's one close enough to my father's house I'll park it there. If not, I'll park in an "out-of-hub" location near my father's house, as is allowed under the operating plan of the SoBi bike share systems. Yes, I would leave the bike at my dad's house and use it again when I wanted to make another bike trip, if it happened to still be in the same place. Otherwise (i.e. if somebody else checked out the bike) I would use the handy smart phone app to find the nearest bike. That's how bike share works. Different people share the same bike.
3) I assume you're just mocking me with your questions, but you can find info about how the system works online with an easy Google search.
I agree with all of you that the existing system is a disgrace, primarily because they don't cover nearly enough of the city, so I understand why you have a bad impression of bike share. I invite you to visit a place where bike share has been implemented properly to see how it can benefit the community: Santa Monica, New York, Chicago, Paris, London to name a few places.


Like this comment
Posted by Eric Bierce
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:30 pm

John A.: I live in Los Angeles County and we have several Bike Share programs under development here and I gleefully welcome that use of my tax dollars. I have also joined two of the programs, even though they don't serve my neighborhood directly. I just think bike share is a great idea and I want it to succeed. If Palo Alto implemented a system as described in the article I would definitely pay to use it.
Bike share serves a great purpose if implemented properly, and has better revenue recovery metrics than most transit services. I think the "one ride per day" target mentioned in the article is needed to achieve a revenue recovery of 25-50 percent of operating and maintenance costs. The most successful systems (e.g. New York and Washington) achieve as many as five rides per bike per day, and are self-sustaining. Some systems in China get more than ten per day.
Yes, the up-front capital costs are high, but the $3,000 per bike start-up cost includes more than just the bikes, it includes: hubs (stations), vending machines, computer/GPS system on each bike, smart phone software, maintenance facilities and other equipment, much of which has a longer life span than the bikes themselves.


11 people like this
Posted by Downtown Tech Worker
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Eric,

My bikeshare expert colleague confirms that bikeshare works well in urban locations such as Santa Monica, New York, Chicago, Paris, London. Santa Monica population density is 10,662 per square mile, while Palo Alto is only 2,497 per square mile. There IS a density level where bikeshare works, but PA does not appear to have it. If you know of a suburb where bikeshare is succeeding, please provide data. I would hope that SoBi could provide such data before PA spends the money.

Your "Palo Alto visitor" use case is quite credible, but it is not clear how many PA visitors share your preference. No suburb can justify a bikeshare system based on visitor use cases. We need resident and worker use cases to justify a system.


3 people like this
Posted by Downtown Tech Worker
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:52 pm

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:21 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Eric - the ridership numbers are in the article for Palo Alto, "bikes in the program were taken for a ride just 0.17 times per day." So urban programs like NY are getting over 25 times the ridership. I don't think there can be a more clear signal that this kind of program is not practical in Palo Alto.

We are spending millions of dollars for bikes to sit unused. It is horrid corporate welfare, and not a productive way to promote bicycle usage. It is a waste of time, money, effort, and space. It is great that it works in New York, and Santa Monica (which btw, surely benefits from being a major tourist hub). We have run a multi year trial in Palo Alto, and have the data showing it does not work.

Let's spend the million on lane separation. Let's try paying people to ride to work. But let's not rehash this failure.


13 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Downtown Tech Worker - Ask your bikeshare expert again about Santa Monica. That program cost $10 million dollars to set up, operating expenses are $1.3 million a year, and they are only covering half that cost with revenue, so they are going to lose over $600,000 a year to keep it going.


19 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

As a bike rider who does not own a car, I predict this program will not work and it is a waste of money. The cost is ridiculous for 1 hour use a day? or $5 daily pass? Ones who can afford it will buy their own bike, those who can't buy a bike won't pay these steep fees... What a waste...sigh!!!!


9 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:43 pm

If the City has over $1 million to spend on something, they should start separating the on grade crossings we have. That would save lives and aid the flow of traffic.
Guess the City doesn't really need more money in th form of a higher parcel tax or storm drain fee.


15 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:53 pm

"I hope Staff isn't dedicating much time to this."

Well, for sure nobody has dedicated any time to thinking it through.


20 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2017 at 10:27 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Online Name above is exactly right: Write City Council. I attended part of the CC mtg tonight and this story did indeed take another turn - it will be continued to March 6, which is next Monday. So yes, write. Not to this forum, but to City Council. Here's the sad deal, folks: we have an errant City Council and the ONLY arrow in our quiver is to get engaged and STAY engaged. This takes time and it is pretty much a pain, but it is necessary if there's going to be any chance of seeing this city function in a way that is ethical and representative of what residents want. If each person reading this doesn't do this (and influence others to do the same) you can expect more development, more congestion, more inadequate infrastructure, more wasted money on unnecessary contracts, more ballots for things like storm drain improvement. It really is just that simple.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2017 at 12:14 am

@38 year resident, when is the last time you saw the Cal Ave @ Park Blvd rental bike rack?


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2017 at 12:41 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@musical - no need for a battle of anecdotes, the data is in the article 0.17 rides per day. So we know what the Cal Ave @ Park Blvd rental bike rack looks like: expensive unused bikes that sit for 5 days at a time before they get a single use, then sit another 5 days, paid for by us.


6 people like this
Posted by Penny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2017 at 1:34 am

Eric Bierce, thank you for answering some of my questions. You did not respond to my question about how you carry your luggage on the bike. I'm asking because you seem to be promoting the bike SoBi bike share program for people traveling to Palo Alto from the airport, presumably for an extended stay. Most people have rolling luggage and I'm curious about how to carry it on the bike.


4 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of University South
on Feb 28, 2017 at 7:04 am

I asked questions suggesting alternatives when this article appeared, but am not finding the post today.

1. May Palo Alto and other Bay area cities consider partnering with the bicycle exchange as a source of bikes and repair services?

Web Link

2. May the bike share enterprise, bluegogo, have a more cost-effective business model with or without collaboration with the bicycle exchange?

Web Link

3. Has anyone done a needs assessment survey to determine the demand for a new bike sharing program?

In the face of opposition and common sense, I hope the council considers alternatives to the proposed bike share program for Palo Alto.






4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2017 at 8:28 am

@john_alderman - I only asked because I was curious how long that bike rack has been gone.
Thought maybe someone who passes it "nearly everyday" would have noticed.


7 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:33 am

38 year resident is a registered user.

@musical...I gave a like to your comment because I should have worded my comment in the past tense. The rack has been gone for awhile because no one was using it. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll be a little more careful the next time.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2017 at 12:51 pm

@38 year resident, present tense comments just had me doubting whether I remembered the correct location. Apologies to all for soaking up some bandwidth on this thread.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm

I wrote to the City council and Lydia Kuo responded, requesting that we take photos of all the full bike racks showing the unused bikes and to date and time stamp them and email them to her at:

Lydia.Kou@CityofPaloAlto.org;

She'd also appreciate your comments.


3 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2017 at 6:45 pm

I fully supported the SoBi program on the Feb 17 consent calendar. However, $1.1+ million investment seems out of context with only $0.2 million for the Palo Alto TMA.

I urged City Staff and Council to be on the public record with strong City evaluation methodology for SoBi investment within the next 3-6 months.

There is scant objective, unbiased information nationally about mode shift from Lyft, Scoop, ZipCar, SoBi, et al. Cities, while touting private mode shift companies, usually have had no independent analysis other than promotional level information from corporate providers.

I urged the City Council direct City Staff to return to Council within 3-6 months with the evaluation framework for the SoBi program. This can be simple entry into the public record...just include it in a city manager's report.

If a evaluation methodology is not designed by City of Palo Alto in 2017, then ROI on $1.1+ million three years from now will be speculative and biased from BiSo's superior and proprietary information.



8 people like this
Posted by I think this is a joke
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2017 at 11:06 am

As has been said by others, I think my brain just exploded.


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2017 at 12:06 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Hhjj
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

Hhjj is a registered user.

The stations are the main thing that make theses systems so cost prohibitive. There are now bike share providers that move the payment and parking guidelines to your phone. Without the docking stations, these providers don't require subsidies from cities. And with a dockless model, we can have a system where only those who use the bikes pay for the bikes. Instead of having non-riders subsidize the riders. LimeBike and BlueGoGo are two that appear to be offering subsidy-free models. Why not invest the subsidy money in better roads and bike lanes for all?

The City Council will need to vote on this and we should all be calling our city council members to let them know where we stand on this!


13 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

Why not use the $1,100 to teach Mr. Mello and his colleagues to respond to residents' inquiries and complaints in under a year's time. It would be better spent than wasting it on $3,142 bikes and a separate expenditure for another %150K-$200K staffer to watch the bikes.

See also the editorial on they city's communications failures.


8 people like this
Posted by Hhjj
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2017 at 11:04 am

Hhjj is a registered user.

Forgot the website www.limebike.com


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 27, 2017 at 11:09 am

@Common Sense, that should be $1,100,000, not $1,100, but totally agree that something should be done to make the transportation folks responsive.

Remember, the city's running a deficit so that makes this expensive program even more outrageous.


2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
19 hours ago

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Sigh. What about Trike design ( with a basket for luggage ) that is an e-bike design ( in the front wheel )? The bike stations become charging stations and the e-bikes support luggage loads, grocery loads and shopping loads.


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