Bay Area bike sharing solves the 'final-mile' problem

© Bay Are BikeShare

Bay Area BikeShare is not just a one-city sharing program. Available in five cities in California (San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Redwood City), it allows users to pick up a bike at a station, ride to Caltrain and drop it off, ride to another station in another city and take a different bike to a final, destination station.

As Bike Sharing Blog notes, this helps solve the "final mile" problem that tends to plague public transportation solutions. If you can easily bike to the train and then go from the train directly by bike to your job or home, it really reduces the need for personal, single occupancy vehicles on the roads. It helps solve the 'final mile' problem that transportation planners grapple with.

And of course, users get the added benefit of a little bike joy.

Of course, bike share is not perfect, and neither is the ability to take bikes on public trains and subways. But with a bit of tinkering, perhaps inner cities can use the experiences of this program as a pilot for better ways to make bike+train+bike reduce gridlock and traffic.

There are European bike systems that have implemented train station bike sharing (OV-fiets, and the UK's Bike & Go among others), according to the Bike-sharing Blog. But the Bay Area BikeShare program allows bikes to be returned to any bike station, and there is no penalty when the bike is returned or 'docked' at a bike station rather than the one from where it was taken. (Uppsala is debuting a slightly similar "bike-to-train" system with its Clear Channel-sponsored pilot project).

Bay Area BikeShare costs $88 for an annual membership; the first 30 minutes of biking are always free. Three-day memberships are $22 and a 24-hour pass is $9. The service debuted August 29, and one new user described the bikes on Twitter as "solid, easy, beautiful, and fun to ride."

After the pilot phase the program is slated to expand to 1,000 bikes at 100 different stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, but thus far, none of the cities services are on the Oakland/Berkeley side of the Bay (East Bay). Currently there are approximately 700 bikes at 70 stations.

Bay Area bike sharing solves the 'final-mile' problem
In transportation we talk about the last mile being the biggest problem in public transport....

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