Public-private partnership approved with Florida-based DecoBike LLC
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
The City Council unanimously approved a “corporate partnership agreement” with Florida-based DecoBike LLC at the July 9 council meeting, a press release from Council President Todd Gloria’s office stated, marking a “giant step” toward an active bike-sharing program for the region.
“Imagine, people will be able to take the trolley, Coaster or Bus Rapid Transit from other areas of the County into Downtown, and use bike sharing to explore areas or get to meetings and events that aren’t within easy walking distance from transit,” Gloria said in the release.
Initial set up for the program began in 2012 with then-Mayor Jerry Sanders. Under the partnership approved July 9, DecoBike will oversee the “financing, implementation, management and operation” of the self-service system for 10 years, the release stated.
The agreement, which Gloria said represents a $7.2 million “capital investment to the City,” will see between 1,800 and 2,200 bicycles available for the public to rent by using a membership or credit card at various locations strategically placed throughout the City. Renters will be able to use the bicycles as a transit link to their final destinations, and the bicycles can then be parked at any station once they are no longer needed.
DecoBike will now seek and gather input from the community and design the network of bike-share station sites. Initial plans call for 180 – 220 stations and approximately 3,200 – 3,900 bike docks, stretching from Downtown into Uptown and farther north into La Jolla, a DecoBike release stated.
The company’s founders Colby Reese, Ricardo Pierdant and Bonifacio Diaz were at the July 9 Council meeting, and Reese called the “public-private partnership” exciting and beneficial for everyone.
“We are touched by the enthusiasm of the community,” Reese said in the DecoBike release. “This is a journey that everyone benefits from.”
DecoBike plans to release a “crowdsourcing map” in August, allowing the public to make suggestions on station locations, they said, adding that survey results show bike-share users are 80 – 90 percent more likely to frequent businesses near these stations.
The agreement allows for “advertising and sponsor branding” on the stations “to help offset operations and capital costs while also earmarking a portion of revenues for improving bicycle infrastructure throughout the City,” DecoBike representatives said. Taxpayer funds will not be used to launch the program, with the company investing the initial $7.2 million.
DecoBike LLC currently operates similar bike-share programs in the Miami Beach, Fla. region and Long Beach, New York, with plans to begin service in Miami.
Pricing options for the Miami Beach program are $15 or $25 per month for a resident membership that includes unlimited 30- and 60-minute rides, and hourly or monthly rentals for visitors. These prices range from $4 for a 30-minute access pass to $24 for a one-day access pass. Monthly rentals for visitors are $35 and include 30, 60-minute rides. San Diego rates will be set within the coming months.
Ultimately, however, the focus at the San Diego Council meeting was on creating a link with current public and private transportation systems.
“The addition of DecoBike in San Diego will help to complete the City’s transportation networks as a highly efficient first-mile, last-mile commuter program, which is very complimentary to the City’s existing public transportation systems,” Pierdant said in the release.
“I’m … excited about this latest way of delivering a new transportation option,” Gloria said adding that by increasing the number of bicycles in San Diego could increase ridership on existing public transit.
Andy Hanshaw of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition called the agreement with DecoBike a “turning point” for the region’s transportation systems.
“We couldn’t be happier about City Council recognizing San Diego’s strong bicycling culture and giving DecoBike the green light to grow our community,” he said in a Coalition press release.
Part of that culture includes the upcoming CicloSDias San Diego event on Aug. 11, where a designated route from City Heights through North Park, South Park and Golden Hill, and ending in Logan Heights, will be closed to automobile traffic. A CicloSDias Mini is scheduled for Sunday, July 21 at Golden Hill Park from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Regarding the bike-share program, City, Coalition and DecoBike representatives all said it would be complete and in place early 2014. The bicycles will come with adjustable seats, baskets and LED lighting.
“The advantages of a bike-share program are too vast to ignore,” Hanshaw said. “We’re giving commuters more options to benefit the environment and their own personal health.”