Less than a week after its neighbors in Los Angeles approved the Mobility Plan 2035 to coax people out of their cars, the West Hollywood City Council approved the creation and implementation of a citywide public bikeshare program.
The motion from West Hollywood’s community development department directs the staff to negotiate a contract with CycleHop, LLC, for the purchase, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of 150 “smart bikes” to create the share system that is expected to launch in Spring 2016. According to the motion, the contract will be for a three-year period with two optional two-year extensions.
“Bringing bikeshare to West Hollywood means more residents and visitors will have a transportation option that’s also great for a healthy lifestyle,” said West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath. “The more bikers we have, the safer biking will become, which will eventually transform our car-centric culture.”
The smart bikes will utilize wireless technology to allow riders to use a smartphone app to reserve bikes, pay for membership and track and share ride data on online social networks. Each smart bike has GPS technology embedded in the bike, which helps make riding a shared bike even easier.
Bikeshare systems usually rely on a configuration in which a group of bicycles is parked at a dock with an electronic kiosk used for payment. Smart bikes allow customers to rent and return a bike directly from technology embedded in the bike.
“Smart bikes have all the technology to operate the system on the bike itself,” said Bianca Siegl, West Hollywood’s long range and mobility planning manager. “Members can enter their code on the bikes and it can track the ride.”
The bikes’ wireless technology also allows riders to park and lock them at any public rack, in addition to the designated stations. Users of the traditional programs can experience frustration when they reach their destination and find no open spots to dock their bike, making the rider proceed to another station until they find an open dock.
“A great advantage is that a smart bike can be locked up anywhere,” Siegl said.
The smart bikes’ onboard technology allows users to lock the bike to any available bike rack because the lock will be on the bike, rather than in the docks. All available bikes will be shown on the smartphone app.
Another technological advantage will come in the form of data that smart bikes will provide to the city. The information collected on travel patterns and system usage will help track reductions in miles traveled in a car, needs for future stations, show popular routes and quantitative feedback.
The bicycles will have LED headlights and taillights, and cargo baskets. To take on steep climbs, the smart bikes will feature eight gears.
Twenty self-service stations will be constructed throughout the city, and West Hollywood will seek to locate a limited number of additional stations at key destinations outside city limits.
The motion allows for an optional second rollout phase that could add 100 more bicycles and 10 additional stations.
CycleHop will be responsible for program administration, technical support, equipment maintenance, daily distribution and customer service.
According to the motion, CycleHop estimates capital costs to be approximately $508,000 with annual operating costs of approximately $345,000 for the confirmed first phase. The motion adds that West Hollywood could attract advertisers and sponsors to offset program costs. CycleHop projects that the city could take in more than $300,000 in advertising revenues annually, in addition to the $262,500 in projected user fee revenue.
The motion also directs staff to launch public outreach and solicit community input on where the bike stations should be located.
Siegl said no public meetings are planned yet, and the outreach will mostly be done online with a “suggest a station” website. Outreach will also be conducted with hotel operators, major employers, business owners and bicycle community groups, among others.
The city will coordinate with neighboring cities to secure potential stations in areas outside of West Hollywood’s borders.
“Of particular interest is the Hollywood and Highland [avenues] area for access to the subway approximately 2.5 miles from West Hollywood City Hall, in addition to The Grove and Farmers Market area,” the motion read.
CycleHop will also launch bikeshare programs compatible with West Hollywood’s in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, at UCLA, and in Long Beach in 2016.
Santa Monica negotiated terms that include a “me-too” clause, which guarantees that other cities in the region can contract with CycleHop under the same pricing and contracting terms to make it easy to adapt and expand for other jurisdictions.
“We think the smart bike program is a great fit for West Hollywood. As a city, we’re really excited to offer this service,” Siegl said. “It gives residents another option other than their cars and it also promotes healthy living.”
West Hollywood’s site preparation and installation is scheduled for sometime between February and April.
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