Palo Alto and Mountain View will be among five lead-off cities next year in California's first regional bicycle-sharing program. Other initially participating cities include San Francisco, Redwood City and San Jose.
The program is set to debut in the Bay Area in 2011 with the help of multi-million dollar grants from local transportation organizations.
In late 2011, about 1,000 bikes at 100 kiosks will be installed throughout the Bay Area, including 50 in San Francisco. The project will receive about $4.3 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and $1.4 million from other partners.
Another $1.3 million will come from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which is managing the project.
"Transportation is really one of the major sources of air pollution in the Bay Area," Aaron Richardson, spokesman for the management district, said. "Any way that we can get motor vehicles to reduce emissions is something that we look at."
Richardson said the initiative will work like a car-sharing program, where registered users could use smart cards or rent the bikes with credit cards.
"These would be bikes you would use for a short trip to complete a BART ride," he said. "It's not like a bike you'd be renting for the weekend."
San Francisco's Municipal Railway (Muni) is one of the partners in the pilot bicycle program.
"Our goals are to put public transit first," Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.
"This will help expand our transportation options not only in the city but throughout the Bay Area, whether people are working or visiting," he said.
The program is still in its early stages, with organizers looking for bicycle vendors to help implement it, Richardson said.