Bike share has officially exploded with not one but at least six bike share companies offering their services and competing for city and individual customers throughout the Bay Area. Read on for an overview of the types of bike share available and the status of our area’s cities.

Docked bike share systems

What: Ford GoBike, operated by Motivate, and formerly Bay Area Bike Share

  • Where: San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville
  • Unique feature: Bikes must be checked out and returned to docking stations.
  • Payment: $3/trip, $9.95/day, $149/year ($14.90/month), low-income membership is $5 for first year and $5/month thereafter. All memberships and daily rate include unlimited 30-minute rides.
  • Privately funded, Ford GoBike plans to expand to 7,000 bikes in the next year or so with 1,000 of those located in San Jose. You can also now attach your membership to your Clipper card in order to check out the bike (but not to pay for it).
  • The system has experienced some backlash and vandalism since its launch this summer, particularly in the East Bay, where it’s completely new, and San Francisco. SVBC has been working over the past year with Motivate and our partners at Transform, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Bike East Bay to ensure that the system works for low-income communities and communities of color. Because of that advocacy, the company is offering a low-income membership option of $5 for the first year and ways to buy a membership using cash/without a credit or debit card. The system has 35% of docking stations located in communities of concern. Along with our partners from around the Bay, we are working with local groups and affordable housing developers to enhance outreach to more diverse populations about how to use bike share and the low-income membership option.
  • Read more from SPUR about how to get the most out of bike sharing.

What: Zagster

  • Where: various corporate locations in San Mateo, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and San Jose. See map.
  • Unique feature: Bikes are typically available to employees of a particular office building or company. They must be checked out and returned at a specific station.
  • Payment: Varies.

Dockless/stationless/GPS-enabled bike share systems

What: Social Bicycles

  • Where: Bay Bike Share in San Mateo; Jump electric bikes in San Mateo and San Francisco
  • Unique features: Bikes can be checked out and returned anywhere in the program area (find where on your smartphone app) but you are encouraged to return them to “geo-hubs”, designated places set by the city and the company. If you leave a bike outside the hub area you’ll get a $3 charge but you can get a $3 credit by returning a bike from outside the hubs to a hub.
  • Payment: $5/hour (prorated per minute) or $15/month
  • San Mateo completed a successful one-year of their 50-bike program in May 2017. SVBC worked with the city to do additional outreach, education, and social rides to promote the program. San Mateo City Council approved the addition of 50 bikes to the system, which will all be electric! The electric bikes are expected to arrive in February.

What: Self-locking bikes: LimeBike, Spin, Ofo, and BlueGoGo (no longer in operation in US?)

  • Where: South San Francisco, Burlingame; in talks with Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and other cities
  • Unique features: Generally funded by venture capital/investors, bikes can be checked out and returned anywhere in a program area (find where on your smartphone) but do not necessarily need to be locked to bike racks and do not have docking stations or geo-hubs. Rides are charged per half hour.
  • Payment: ~$1/30 minutes
  • South San Francisco: The city started a six-month pilot program in August 2017 through February 2018. LimeBike has 300 bikes in the city and Spin has 125 bikes but the city hasn’t set an upper limit yet. The companies signed agreements with the city that set down certain requirements like maintenance, rebalancing, and minimum bike quality standards. South San Francisco also issued encroachment permits to allow the bikes on city right of way (sidewalks) as long as it doesn’t block other people’s access. South San Francisco’s pilot does not require that the bike share bikes be locked to a bike rack or confined to a geo-hub or docking station. At the end of six months, South San Francisco will look at setting more permanent guidelines and a maximum number of bikes based on the pilot experience. City Council will need to pass an ordinance that lays out a permitting process for any program to move forward.
  • Mountain View: City Council held a study session on September 26 to discuss bike share and next steps. City staff recommends that they follow South San Francisco’s lead and do a one year pilot program open to multiple providers but with certain restrictions. One would be that each vendor would provide at minimum 200 and at maximum 400 bikes with an overall city cap of 800 bikes for all bike share companies. The staff report says that, “[a] minimum will ensure that the company has a large enough presence to provide full-time staff within the City for rebalancing the bikes and responding to calls to move or repair bikes. The City maximum would help curtail possible problems with too many bikes that may be underutilized and cluttering the right-of-way.” In addition, the city would have designated parking areas and free-floating bikes: in high demand areas like downtown and the transit center, the bikes would be restricted to designated parking areas to reduce conflict between parked bikes and pedestrians. In other areas of the city, bikes could be parked at any location in the right of way acceptable for bike parking.
  • Palo Alto: Meanwhile, City of Palo Alto staff is drafting regulations to allow something similar to South San Francisco or Mountain View. However, they would skip over the pilot and go straight to having a city ordinance that would set out rules and conditions for bike share companies to operate in that city. This is expected to go before city council before the end of the calendar year.

Redwood City and Menlo Park are also looking into bike share but will likely wait and see how other area pilots go.

Do you want bike share in your city or have feedback on the existing systems? Let us know in the comments.