L.A. City Council approves funding for downtown bikeshare

Photo by Jennifer Gill/Metro.

Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas and Board Member Mike Bonin try out Metro’s new bikeshare bicycles at the Aug. 9 CicLAvia.  Photo by Jennifer Gill/Metro.

The L.A. City Council officially approved its partnership with Metro on Friday to help fund the downtown Los Angeles bikeshare program slated to begin in 2016. Here’s the news release from Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose district includes DTLA:

Council Approves Bringing More than 1,000 Bikeshare Bikes to DTLA

Pilot in DTLA will bring 1,090 bikes to 65-plus stations throughout DTLA, which will allow residents, tourists and public-transit users to easily access bicycles that they can check out at one station and leave at another – bikeshare use worldwide, now over 1 million.

LOS ANGELES (August 28, 2015) – The Los Angeles City Council voted today to partner with Metro to launch a pilot bike-sharing program in Downtown Los Angeles, which will bring 1,090 bicycles to 65-plus stations by 2016. The program aims to eventually expand to other neighborhoods, such as Hollywood, Mid-City, North Hollywood and Venice.

Bikeshare is a partnership between Metro, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc. (BTS) and its partner BCycle were selected to implement the program for Metro in Los Angeles and other cities. The program builds on successful bikesharing operations in other major cities, including Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Paris.

After a 2012 effort to bring bikesharing to Downtown Los Angeles failed to materialize, Councilmember José Huizar, who represents a majority of DTLA, welcomes the program, which compliments his DTLA Forward initiative, aimed at improving pedestrian, public space and bicycle access in DTLA.

“This bikesharing program is a long time coming for DTLA and the City of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Huizar. “We have been leading the fight to bring more pedestrian and bicycle uses to the City, particularly in Downtown, where many of its 53,000 residents live car-free lives. Our bikesharing service will greatly benefit them, as well as the many workers, visitors and tourists who come to DTLA each and every day.”

Under the plan, Metro and the City of Los Angeles will share capital costs. Metro will cover 35% of net operations and maintenance costs and the City will cover the remaining 65%.

“Bikesharing’s return on investment is proven and powerful,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “It is good for local business, public health, and community happiness.  The City is a proud partner to Metro in launching a new form of safe, equitable, and fun public transit.”

Naming rights for the bikeshare system will be retained by Metro and advertising rights on bikeshare stations will belong to the City and be negotiated separately from the MOU approved today.

“We’re very pleased to partner with the City of Los Angeles to bring bike sharing to Downtown L.A. next year,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair.  “This partnership will do wonders to extend the reach of Metro’s bus and rail system and give Angelinos brand new, efficient and sustainable transportation options. Following Downtown L.A.’s bike sharing pilot, we look forward to expanding the bike share program to many other cities within Los Angeles County.”

BTS/BCycle is working on integrating transit fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP card, bringing a convenient, unified payment system to the county’s rail, bus and bikeshare systems.

Councilmember Mike Bonin also serves as a Metro Boardmember and helped usher in the new program.

“I am incredibly excited that we are moving forward with bike share in L.A. and that we are focusing on developing a system that will connect our neighborhoods,” said Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin. “It defies logic that snowy cities around the country have had bike share for years, but a city like Los Angeles, with our wonderful weather and communities begging to be biked, still hasn’t gotten this done yet. I’m excited this is happening in L.A. and I can’t wait for it to reach the Westside in the near future.”

Bikesharing programs have grown throughout the years from the free white bike programs introduced by the Dutch in the 1970s to the current explosion of member-based, electronic kiosk-operated bicycle sharing programs globally. In 2015, the global number of bikeshare bikes surpassed 1 million. Most major cities in North America have developed bikeshare programs.

Bikeshare has been an effective tool in expanding the number of mobility options available for short trips in other cities, improving the health of its users, decreasing crashes, and producing positive outcomes for business.

  • In Denver, 43% of bikeshare users say they use bikeshare to replace car trips.
  • In Washington, D.C., 31% of bikeshare users report lower stress levels.
  • In Paris, local bike sales increased 35% one year after the Velib bikeshare system was installed.
  • New York’s Citibike system has created 200 local jobs.
  • In five cities with bikeshare systems, injuries to people bicycling decreased by 30% compared to cities without bikeshare systems.

The City of Los Angeles and Metro are creating a system in which bikeshare is a form of public transportation.

The capital cost of the Pilot Program is anticipated to be $5,806,034. Metro grant funding from two sources have been secured in order to cover all of these capital costs. The first grant is $3,792,893 in ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue. In addition, the Metro Board approved reprogramming $2,013,141 in Metro Call for Project funding from two former CRA projects to offset capital costs and pay for the remainder of the capital purchase of equipment for the Program.

The total Operations and Maintenance cost of the two-year program is estimated to be $5,259,639. The City’s 65% share will be offset by revenue from user fees, and the remaining net costs are recommended to be paid through a combination of funds from the Local Transportation Fund (TDA) and the Measure R Local Return 5% set-aside for bicycle programs.

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14 replies

  1. What’s stopping someone from using a prepaid VISA card or a skim-cloned credit card on it to unlock the bikes, never return it and it turns up on the black market somewhere in Russia? Absolutely nothing.

    Oh it has a big Metro sign so it’ll be easy to spot. And it’s easy to go to a Home Depot to buy a can of paint also.

    Oh it requires special tools to take it apart. Yeah, “special tools” that today, anyone can buy it off the internet.

    Then, criminals would’ve gotten a bike for very little “investment” and taxpayers are on the hook to buy new bicycles.

    This is LA we’re talking about. Haven’t you realized it yet from the huge number of fare evaders here in LA that people can’t be trusted in LA? Criminals themselves have gone high tech.

    Last time I checked, Metro isn’t really up to date on changing the card readers for the EMV conversion deadline of October 1 and still relying on mag-stripe readers which is vulnerable for skimming fraud.

    • Ability to rent these bicycles with TAP cards also have their pitfalls. There’s nothing stopping a person from obtaining a TAP card with minimum funds loaded onto it, unlock the bicycles, take them away, and re-selling it to the highest bidder. I don’t know how much these bicycles costs to the taxpayers, but I’m sure it’s more than the price of $1 per TAP card + $1.75 cash value, so in theory, a bike thief can literally steal the bikes for only $2.75.

      Hopefully Metro was smart enough to something similar to LoJacks or some sort of GPS tracking devices onto these bikes.

      • I’m pretty sure that Metro won’t let you check out a bike with a TAP card only. You will have to register the bike with a credit card, subject to some as yet unexplained vetting process, and tie your TAP card to your credit card, and your user password, before you can check out a bike from the bike share system. That way they will be able to come after you if you steal or damage the bike. The reason for using TAP cards is so that they can tie the bike share use into the cost of a transit trip, i.e. treat the bike trip as the first or last leg of the transit trip.

      • “You will have to register the bike with a credit card…”

        Somehow doubtful. Here’s why I think why (I am just speculating here, offer no proof, I hope I am wrong):

        Unlike Uber or Lyft which are private companies which can get away with regulatory requirements like “we can provide transit services for those who can afford a smartphone and have their payments set up via credit/debit or bank account online,” Metro is a government agency that I assume it has to abide some strict arcane guidelines that it must also accept cash payments for the unbanked.

        That has to be taken into consideration that many of Metro’s riders are poor, do not take advantage of direct deposit, unbanked for whatever reason (distrust banks, never heard of credit unions, maybe there are no banks nearby, etc.), and fall prey to predatory lenders and check cashing services.

        That being said, there’s no pre-requisite that one must have a credit or debit card to use TAP (discriminatory to those who may not have a credit or debit card for whatever reason) and that TAP must be allowed to load cash value, which can be done at the kiosks, onboard the bus, or at any TAP retail locations


        Another factor that might be considered is what about tourists from abroad? How will they be use these bikeshare programs when the only way to pay for these is by credit cards, but if their credit cards don’t?

        If going by the gas pumps found in the US, credit card verification is done with “please enter your 5 digit zip code” to verify the identity of the card holder is really you, but zip codes only apply to US issued credit cards. In other countries, they’re called postal codes, may not be 5 digits (6 digits for China, 7 digits for Japan), and may even have letters in them (i.e. Canada, UK). Thus, for the most part, international cardholders cannot use the automated gas pumps and have to go inside the gas station and let the attendant do it on their terminal. Seeing that there are no live attendants for these bikeshares, one must theorize that credit card payments isn’t the sole payment method for these bikes.


  2. Will City/County of Los Angeles be liable when cyclists killed by drivers? Will our tax dollars get wiped out by lawsuits?

    Cyclists get mowed down all the time & congested Downtown L.A. streets, will likely prove lethal.
    Mass transit via Subway, Light Rail & busses, is far safer. Metro still has to improve in many ways, but generally, people aren’t dying.

    From 90035

  3. It’s great to see we’re one step closer. Do we know when we get to see the locations of the first 65 bike stations? What about the pricing structure? Hopefully they don’t make the same mistake Santa Monica made and put a cap the daily usage.
    By the way, somebody needs to show Councilman Bonin how to adjust his seat. He’s gonna mess up his knees riding that low!

    • ExpoRider, the system will launch in mid-2016. Tentative locations can be reviewed in the Bikeshare Implementation Plan at http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2015/15-0985_misc_f_08-20-15.pdf, though Metro’s Bike Program reports that recent community/stakeholder outreach has provided further refinements that will be forthcoming. The fare structure is under development and will go to the Metro Board for review and approval by early next year.