Friday, April 30, 2010

Bike Sharing *IS* Coming to San Jose

On Earth Day I posted about an innovative bike-share program taking shape in Denver. The quick summary is that citizens can pick up one of 400 bikes at solar-powered stations throughout the city, use it for their daily commute or maybe just for a joyride (bike party anyone?), and then return it to any station they want. I thought this was a killer idea and one we should implement right here in Silicon Valley. Great news, it looks like that is EXACTLY what we're going to do. Thanks to an astute reader, below is VTA's press release for a half million dollar bike share program for Santa Clara County!


VTA Awarded $500,000 for Valley Bike Share Pilot Project

Agency to Begin Distinctive Program

Release Number:  nr 09 12 14
Release Date:  Dec 21, 2009
San Jose, Calif. –The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) recently secured a $500,000 Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) grant to fund a Bike Share Pilot Project. With the approval of the grant by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) last week, VTA can now jump start bike sharing in Santa Clara County.
Bike sharing provides users 24/7 access to public bicycles to commute to work, run errands or even ride for fun, without the worry of bicycle theft or lack of bicycle parking. With self-service stations that allow users to access a fleet of bicycles anytime, bike sharing offers a convenient option for making short trips when walking is too far and transit options are not available.

The concept of Bike Sharing, while not new, was championed locally on several fronts including the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC), elected officials, and VTA.  VTA’s bike sharing pilot project is expected to begin in Spring 2010. 

“I’m thrilled to see the many months of hard work by VTA staff and our bicycling advocates come to fruition with this MTC grant,“ said Sam Liccardo, VTA Board of Directors interim chair and San Jose City Councilmember, who publicly launched an initiative for a bike share pilot project in San José in 2008. “This effort combines an innovative way to enable people to use an old-fashioned, low-tech solution: the bicycle.  It boosts transit by helping eliminate the chronic “bumping” of riders trying to board bicycle-laden Caltrain cars, and it provides a much needed bridge for transit riders seeking to reach their office or ultimate destination.”

Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) Chair Joe Walton is excited about the opportunity to explore bike sharing locally. “Bike sharing will reduce the use of 
private automobiles while also promote active transportation,” said Walton.

The transit-based bike sharing program is centered on VTA’s transit centers in San Jose, Palo Alto and Mountain View, and the surrounding 3-mile radius for potential bike sharing stations or pods. The three transit centers were chosen because they have the highest ridership and experience serious bike overcrowding and bumping problems. Bike sharing presents an opportunity to address these obstacles and expand the existing transportation system without additional infrastructure or new transit service.

VTA is currently conducting a study to assess feasibility of a bike sharing program in Santa Clara County. VTA is working with a consultant team and a working group comprised of representatives from the three cities, Caltrain, private businesses, SVBC, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) to conduct the necessary market research, technology review and develop a business and finance model. Based on promising initial results, over half of the people surveyed indicated they would use the bike sharing program if it were available. The study is slated for completion by March 2010, and based on its findings, VTA staff will develop the pilot project and use the SR2T grant to purchase the initial set of bicycles and bike share pods.

The SR2T grant program funds projects that facilitate safe walking and biking to regional transit. The program is funded by Regional Measure 2, the $1 bridge toll increase for transit. The SR2T Committee’s recommendation that the VTA Pilot Bike Sharing project receive the requested $500,000 in funding was approved by MTC at its December 16, 2009 meeting.

No comments:

Post a Comment