Bike lending service begins pilot in Palo Alto

Charles Yu, Author

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Paly students ride past the new Bay Area Bike Share station on California Avenue on their way to school. The new program, which spans five cities including Palo Alto, began operating this morning. Photo by Charles Yu.

A new bicycle-lending system will roll out today in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City, San Francisco and San Jose.

Bay Area Bike Share, a public bicycle lending service operated by Alta Bicycle Share, will begin a 12-month pilot phase in the Bay Area today with 70 rental stations already set up, with five in Palo Alto. The service strives to provide a new form of public transit in addition to services like Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain, and Santa Clara Valley Transport Authority.

“Bay Area Bike Share is the first regional bike share system on the West Coast,” wrote Laura Ruchinskas, marketing manager of Bay Area Bike Share, in an email. “The system spans over 50 miles, connecting San Francisco to San Jose along the Caltrain corridor.”

According to the Bay Area Bike Share website, rental bikes will be at the ready 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to those over the age of 18 with a debit or credit card.

“The system is open to users over the age of 18 because of liability,” Ruchinskas said.

Ruchinskas also notes that bicycles will be maintained regularly.

“Bikes are regularly checked and rebalanced by the operation team,” Ruchinskas said. “Users can report a broken bike by pushing the maintenance button at the station.”

The service faces some limitations. As of now, bicycles may only be rented out for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time and the user will receive additional fees for any overtime, according to the Bay Area Bike Share website.

“Bicycles are designed to withstand the rigors of constant use and exposure; they are well-made but not ideal for longer rides,” reads the statement on the Bay Area Bike Share FAQ.

As for a future direction for Bay Area Bike Share, Ruchinskas said, “We would love to expand the program after a successful pilot phase.”

Paly students are supportive of this new system.

“I think it would be really good if you got a ride somewhere but didn’t have a ride back,” junior Isaac Kasevich said. “You could just get a bike to one of the stations and you wouldn’t have to wait for someone to pick you up, you’d just go on your bike.”

The website  lists several different payment options. Users can opt for an annual membership at $88 or $99 in monthly payments of $8.25. Users can also pay $9 for 24 hours of use or $22 for three days of use. More information about Bay Area Bike Share can be found here.