News

Palo Alto kicks bike-share system into gear

Rental bikes available in downtown Palo Alto and near California Avenue

Commuters and traffic-weary residents can cruise Palo Alto on readily available rented bicycles, now that the city has 75 "bike-share" bicycles at five kiosks spread around the north part of the city.

Palo Alto started participating in the Bay Area Bike Share program Thursday morning allowing those who have purchased 24-hour, three day or year-long memberships with the bike-sharing service to take as many 30-minute rides as they want between the stations.

The idea is to make it more convenient to take public transit by providing riders with a relatively simple transportation option for "last-mile trips" to connect them with their destinations or other transportation, according to the system's website.

Palo Alto's bike-share system is part of a 1,000-bike program with 100 stations that runs along the Caltrain corridor from San Jose to San Francisco. The program is funded through local and regional grants in combination with a $4.3 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Climate Initiatives Grant program.

"Palo Alto has the highest bike use for commuters and students than any other city in Santa Clara County, and our bike-share kiosks will support those last-mile trips between transit stations and employment centers," Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff said. "Having a bike available at the end of a transit commute could make the difference to individuals who normally drive solo in their cars."

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Memberships cost from $9 for 24 hours to $88 for annual memberships. Rides that exceed the 30-minute time limit cost an extra $4 if they last for an hour. They cost an additional $7 for every 30 minutes after that.

The kiosk can be found at the following locations:

*Emerson and University (Palo Alto Bicycles)

*Caltrain station (at University)

*University and Cowper

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*California and Park (Caltrain stop)

*Park Avenue in front of AOL headquarters

— Eric Van Susteren

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Palo Alto kicks bike-share system into gear

Rental bikes available in downtown Palo Alto and near California Avenue

Uploaded: Thu, Aug 29, 2013, 9:39 am

Commuters and traffic-weary residents can cruise Palo Alto on readily available rented bicycles, now that the city has 75 "bike-share" bicycles at five kiosks spread around the north part of the city.

Palo Alto started participating in the Bay Area Bike Share program Thursday morning allowing those who have purchased 24-hour, three day or year-long memberships with the bike-sharing service to take as many 30-minute rides as they want between the stations.

The idea is to make it more convenient to take public transit by providing riders with a relatively simple transportation option for "last-mile trips" to connect them with their destinations or other transportation, according to the system's website.

Palo Alto's bike-share system is part of a 1,000-bike program with 100 stations that runs along the Caltrain corridor from San Jose to San Francisco. The program is funded through local and regional grants in combination with a $4.3 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Climate Initiatives Grant program.

"Palo Alto has the highest bike use for commuters and students than any other city in Santa Clara County, and our bike-share kiosks will support those last-mile trips between transit stations and employment centers," Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff said. "Having a bike available at the end of a transit commute could make the difference to individuals who normally drive solo in their cars."

Memberships cost from $9 for 24 hours to $88 for annual memberships. Rides that exceed the 30-minute time limit cost an extra $4 if they last for an hour. They cost an additional $7 for every 30 minutes after that.

The kiosk can be found at the following locations:

*Emerson and University (Palo Alto Bicycles)

*Caltrain station (at University)

*University and Cowper

*California and Park (Caltrain stop)

*Park Avenue in front of AOL headquarters

— Eric Van Susteren

Comments

Nayeli
Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:47 am
Nayeli, Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:47 am
1 person likes this

This is a great option! I have a friend from college who lives in Chattanooga and has been enjoying this for a while now. This sort of program has been successful there.


Mid-town resident
Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:06 am
Mid-town resident, Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:06 am
Like this comment

The prices are way too high to make this viable... This is not a bike rental program.


Paly Parent
Palo Alto High School
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:19 am
Paly Parent, Palo Alto High School
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:19 am
Like this comment

The prices sound high, but we have just spent over $80 for bike parts and maintenance for one bike and $25 for another bike with a similar cost earlier this year.

I love the idea of bikes with someone else doing all the maintenance and keeping the tires pumped. Our school bike racks and the clumsy manner in which students treat other students bike costs more money than we expected.

When will these be available at high schools and where is the nearest bike station to my house?


so
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:13 am
so, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:13 am
Like this comment

Aren't these distances silly.

I thought the idea was to rent a bike and ride it one-way to a destination.
Rent a bike at the university caltrain station and ride to the Palo Alto bike store?
Who would do that?
Wouldn't it make more sense to have a station harder to walk distance like on the Stanford campus?

California caltrain to the AOL building?
This is an easy walking distance too.

I think the caltrain stations make sense, but I get off the train and ride to the an easy walk away?


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:23 am
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:23 am
Like this comment

The price is cheap if you buy the annual pass and use the system for daily commuting. The daily rates are mostly for out-of-town visitors who want to use bike share instead of renting a car.

I agree that they need to add more stations farther east and west of the Caltrain stations (like along Middlefield and El Camino). Right now, the system is most useful for people traveling north-south, like from downtown to California Ave or down to Mountain View.

I'm sure the system is a lot more interesting to people who Caltrain to San Francisco, where most of the stations are located.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:39 am
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:39 am
Like this comment

If you want to suggest new station locations, the VTA (who is sponsoring the Palo Alto system) says to use this map: Web Link
Scroll down to Palo Alto and click on new locations or support/comment on locations other people have already suggested.


rodents
Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm
rodents, Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Like this comment

I don't understand. If I want to take the train from my far away home, not lug a bike with me and use this rental to get to work/school - then this would make sense. But a year membership is $88 and then if I wanted to take it to work (say stanford) for 9 hours then it's going to cost me 16 (half hours) X $7 + $4 = $116 a day? Am I understanding the fee incorrectly? What use is a bike for 30 minutes?
A daily rental for a car is about $30-$40. A daily rental for a bike should be $10-$20.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm
Like this comment

rodent - ask Stanford to install bike share stations on campus so you can let other people use the bike when you are at work all day. That is why this is called a "share" system instead of "rental" system. 30 minutes is plenty of time for you to get from Caltrain to campus.


rodents
Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm
rodents, Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm
Like this comment

so, this is the bike share to nowhere? Stanford is a huge campus and there are hundreds of businesses in palo alto, will each require a kiosk for this to work? Add in the possibility that there may not be a bike at the kiosk I need and this system really seems silly.


Nayeli
Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Like this comment

I spoke with my friend from Chattanooga about that city's successful bike share program. She said that it is a lot like a Red Box (movie rental) system in that you can pick up and return a bike at any kiosk and use your card in case you accrue a fee.

The annual pass in Chattanooga costs $75, but students and those who work for corporate partners get a discount at $30 per year. The annual pass allows you to use the bike for one hour without a fee, but $5 for each 30 minute block over an hour. A person can re-check out a bike by simply going to any kiosk and using the touch screen. In other words, they can ride by a kiosk before the initial hour and then re-check the bike to receive another hour of use.

The big difference, according to my friend, is in the number of bike locations around Chattanooga. There are more than 30 locations around town, including those on university campuses, near high schools and throughout the "downtown" area.

Hopefully, more of these stations will be added to encompass more areas of town. I think that a station at Stanford as well as along University Ave., San Antonio Road, Charleston and several along El Caminio would be a great start!


bicyclechic
South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm
bicyclechic, South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm
Like this comment

The Cal Train bike station at California and Oregon serves South Palo Alto too! The trendy area South of Oregon Expy and Page Mill Road at California Avenue THANK YOU!


bikeshare = like Zipcar for bikes
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm
bikeshare = like Zipcar for bikes, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm
Like this comment

Most commenters are confusing bikeshare systems with ordinary bike rentals. Bike rentals are available from some local bike shops (Campus Bikes and Bike Connection are the options I know) for people who want to try out biking, or for short term visitors to the Stanford Campus, or for visiting relatives to get around town.

Bikeshare systems are NOT for daily commuting nor for recreational rides. They are for 15-30 minute connecting trips after you arrive in Palo Alto by train, or short hops between downtown and Cal Ave for lunch (cleverly avoiding the lunchtime parking problem).
See the website: Web Link

If this system gets lots of riders in San Francisco or downtown San Jose, then users who have business in Palo Alto (or Mountain View or Redwood City) will be more likely to leave their car at home and take the train, then use a bikeshare to get to their destination -- if it has a bikeshare docking station nearby. Of course, the system will have to expand, but I think the idea is for user demand to help grow the system. It would be great for getting from the train stations to to/from Stanford University, but for some reason the bike-friendly university isn't rolling out any stations -- anyone know why not?



emily
Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 7:08 am
emily, Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 7:08 am
Like this comment

30 minutes for a trip is way too short of an amount of time to actually DO anything.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 9:08 am
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 9:08 am
Like this comment

emily - I think you're wrong. There is plenty you can do in a 30 minute bike ride. From downtown, I can easily bike to the Stanford Shopping Center or California Street shopping district or midtown shopping center or Stanford University or downtown Menlo Park. Unfortunately, only one of these destinations has a bike share station where I can drop off the bike. Hopefully that will change in the future.

If you want to go on a longer bike ride, local bike shops can rent you bikes for moderately priced daily or weekly rates.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 9:17 am
Donald, South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 9:17 am
Like this comment

parent, you are correct. The 30 minutes is not supposed to be time to "do anything" but time to get somewhere. You drop the bike in a kiosk while you do your business, then pick up another when you are finished for the return ride. Of course this only works if there are lots of kiosks and lots of bikes. The pilot program is so limited that it might not work even though a larger system would, so this will be very hard to evaluate.

The absence of Stanford is a mystery. I know they were involved and interested in the early stages of planning, and I don't know what went wrong along the way.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:39 am
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:39 am
Like this comment

How do you scale this system up to handle, say, 5,000 people a day? Where in downtown PA will you put hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these bike racks?

This is a really crazy idea in the long run.

Once these bikes begin to show signs of a lack of maintenance, and some significant theft rate, the craziness will become evident.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:01 am
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:01 am
Like this comment

Joe - it way easier and cheaper for the city to build bike parking spaces than car parking spaces, and bikes are replacing cars for both shoppers and commuters. You can fit 10 bikes in the space of 1 car. You actually need far fewer bike parking spaces, since each bike is shared by many different people. I understand that New York City's bike share system is averaging 6 uses per bicycle every day.


musical
Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:23 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:23 am
Like this comment

Say we had 50 ten-slot bike racks, with 5 bikes each -- 250 bikes each checked out 20 times per day is your 5000 people. Yes it's crazy to think we'd reach that level of optimization, but we're not so many orders of magnitude away from viability as skeptics may think. Maintenance may become a problem, but in similar bikeshares the theft rate is surprisingly very near zero.

Not much said here about "rebalancing", advertising, selling user data, and other technical points.


Midtown
Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:26 am
Midtown, Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:26 am
Like this comment

Super, just what we want to be, New York City. At the rate the developers are going a bike is about the only way we will be able to move in New York Alto. This ride share thing is a non-starter without dozens and dozens of stations. The VTA should spend their money on bike racks for buses and train cars. What happens when you get to your destination and the rack is full?


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:33 am
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:33 am
Like this comment

> bikes are replacing cars for both shoppers and commuters.

In your dreams. Go to any shopping mall, count the bicycles and cars. If you find the number of bicycles larger than the number of fingers on both of your hands, it will be a significant day in the saga of bicycles replacing cars. Ever try to buy a couch and take it home on a bicycle? What about just the fixings for a thanks giving dinner? Not very likely!

Currently, people travel about 30 minutes to work, using cars and other forms of internal combustion engines. How long do you think that it would take for these people to ride their bicycles? 2-3 hours? More?

You can live in your dream world if you want--but the real world is not going away anytime soon!

> build more parking spaces

There are a lot of parking spaces all over town. The problem seems to be in the downtown area. As to the City building new parking structures, the private sector is free to build these structures if it wants. Moreover, while the City does seem to be the lead agency in building parking structures downtown, the Parking Assessment District is paying for them--not the City (meaning the taxpayers).


Donald
South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm
Like this comment

Joe, my 30 minute bike commute would take 10 minutes longer by car.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Like this comment

Joe - first you say that downtown PA needs thousands of bike racks, then you say that no one is going to use them. Your arguments make no sense [portion removed?]


resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm
resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm
Like this comment

The City's efforts to make the City "bike friendly" are overwhelmed
by its pro-growth polices which send waves of commuters speeding
through town, parking over-flow blocking visibilites at corners
on our residential streets. And introducing more bikes in this situation, of clogged streets, narrow and shared lanes, including visitors who may rent or bike/share and who may not be familiar with the streets and traffic patterns, is dangerous for everybody. The bike/share program is dysfunctional as presently constituted with such limited stations and high costs. The City is pursuing a set of inconsistent, conflicting and irrational policies. Nothing has changed.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Like this comment

The City of Palo Alto has almost nothing to do with the bike share program. It is being funded and operated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and various transportation agencies. All Palo Alto had to do was agree to let them use some street space for the kiosks. The program is targeting the busiest Caltrain stations, and Palo Alto is one of them. It would have been silly not to participate.


Done That
Green Acres
on Aug 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm
Done That, Green Acres
on Aug 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm
Like this comment

When I lived in Denmark for a year, these things were everywhere, and that was two decades ago! The Netherlands has done this for a very long time, too, we are WAY behind, as usual.

One problem I foresee here that I never saw in Europe is theft of the bikes. Are there no tracking devices? They are cheap when bought in quantities? This does happen in SF, I have been told.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Like this comment

Bike theft should be mostly eliminated because you are required to lock the bike in their heavy duty racks at the end of every ride. People shouldn't be leaving these anywhere unlocked.


resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm
resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm
Like this comment

@Donald
It is good to clarify that the bike share program is regional and Palo Alto is just allowing it to operate. It becomes integrated
then into our local bicycle planning, part of the system. So how
it operates, how it is used,etc. become local concerns too. We are also losing a few parking spaces to the racks.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm
Like this comment

Actually, we are gaining parking places. Each kiosk can park 10 bikes in the space that previously parked 2 cars.


Midtown
Midtown
on Aug 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm
Midtown, Midtown
on Aug 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm
Like this comment

Actually by using parking places for a nonfunctional bike scheme you make the parking problem worse, 100 bike parking places means 20 highly desirable parking spaces are gone.


parent
Downtown North
on Aug 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm
parent, Downtown North
on Aug 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm
Like this comment

Get real. Maybe 4 car spaces were used to make space for 60 bicycles in the current installation. That's a great tradeoff in my book, especially if the city can start adding more stations in the residential parts of town so people can use bike share to get to downtown instead of driving in. That's 60 fewer cars on the road and trying to park downtown. Actually, in some cities the shared bikes are used by 6 or 8 different people every day, so 60 bikes can mean hundreds fewer cars downtown.

A new parking garage can cost upwards of $50 million. Bike share is a bargain in comparison.

We used bike share to bike from downtown to California Avenue this morning. That's an easy 12 minute bike ride at a casual family pace, using that quiet bike path that runs behind the medical center and Paly.

I just wish we could have more bike share stations. Town & Country and the Stanford Shopping Center are obvious choices, as well as some of the residential area along the Bryant Bicycle Boulevard.


resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm
resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm
Like this comment

Bike share if more stations can be added away from Downtown should be looked at as an option to those who want to use it.But please do not fall into the City's trap of projecting bike share as an offset to allow more development which is the prime motive here. More development means more traffic, more commuters, less safety for
bicyclists, more parking problems. In the same way Caltrain is
is the excuse to allow mega-projects like Lytton Gateway. As construction continues on Lytton Gateway it looks more and more like
a garage. I suggest Jim Baer breaks the lease with Survey Monkey
and turns it into a garage which would be a public benefit and would
almost justify this completely out-of-scale building. For a garage
it doesn't look bad.



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