Pedaling a new service : Bike Share promotes alternative transportation

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bike Share stations are strategically placed throughout Mountain View to offer local residents and visitors, particularly commuters, an alternative to driving.

Approximately two-dozen mint-green bikes glisten in the morning sun in front of the Mountain View Caltrain Station as pedestrians scurry to complete their commutes. The new Bay Area Bike Share bicycles are waiting for riders to give them a quick spin around town.

Launched Aug. 29, Bay Area Bike Share – an $11.2 million publicly funded pilot program administered and funded by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority – introduced 91 bikes to the streets of Mountain View via five docking stations. Strategically placed in areas adjacent to public transit and major business and residential hubs, Bike Share stations are located at the Mountain View and San Antonio Caltrain stations, Mountain View City Hall, the Evelyn Avenue Park & Ride and the intersection of Rengstorff Avenue and California Street.

At least two more docking stations are slated for construction in Mountain View by the end of the year. BAAQMD has submitted permit applications for four or five stations that would be installed during Phase 2 of the project, scheduled for early 2014.

BAAQMD adopted the project to reduce the number of bikes on public transportation by offering commuters an alternative to reach their destinations after disembarking from their primary modes of transportation. When the Bay Area Bike Share pilot program is completed, a total of 1,000 bikes will be available throughout 100 stations across the Bay Area.

Local residents may also use the Bike Share network as an alternative to driving for quick errands. At a cost of $9 per day, $22 for three days or $88 annually, the passes include unlimited rides under 30 minutes. If a rider fails to return the bike to a docking station on schedule, he or she pays a fee of $4 for every extra half-hour, up to $150 a day. With the system’s phone application, CycleFinder, users can check on the availability of bikes and parking spots at any station in the system in real time.

According to BAAQMD Grants Programs Manager Karen Schkolnick, the public’s initial reaction to the new Bike Share system has been resoundingly positive.

“Overall, it’s been very well received, and there seems to be a lot of support for this in the community,” she said. “We’re working to see how we can make sure that people who might be interested can engage in the program.”

Although no Bike Share docking stations are currently planned in Los Altos or Los Altos Hills, Schkolnick said the pilot could become a blueprint for future growth to service a wider audience.

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