Last month, I hosted a second regional bike share stakeholder meeting to further our efforts in creating a comprehensive, functional and user-friendly bike share program for the entire Los Angeles region. The second meeting was attended by representatives from the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and the cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, as well as bicycle advocates from throughout the region.
The purpose of the second meeting was to provide feedback on the initial phase of an implementation prepared by Metro that incorporated many of the issues identified by all of the stakeholders at the original meeting last October. This feedback will also be provided to Metro’s governing board at their next public hearing on January 23rd in the hopes of obtaining full authority for moving forward with the initial phase of the plan.
At the first meeting, all the stakeholders acknowledged that a regional, compatible system that cities can opt into when ready must be the primary goal. However, everyone also acknowledged that the coordination of various elements such as bike infrastructure, potential vendors, funding options, bicycle kiosk locations, safety education, advertising or sponsorships, and governance amongst so many local agencies will require many more discussions.
The initial meeting was convened out of concern that cities in our region may begin to develop bike share programs independently, which could easily be incompatible with their neighbouring city, making the system worthless for riders who cross multiple cities in their commute. Not only would this be impractical for many commuters, but it would take many years before compatibility issues are resolved. The various bike share vendors and operators use different bikes, kiosks, and locking devices and their contracts with the local agencies could last multiple years. Additionally, there are significant start-up costs that would need to be reinvested should a city or the county switch vendors or operators. Requiring commuters to switch bikes in different service areas would also create kiosk location problems since riders would need to switch bikes. These are all of the issues that we are seeking to avoid by creating a regional system.