10:16 AM ET
A corporate sponsorship from Ford is giving the Bay Area’s bike share program a big boost. But not every community wants in.
A common criticism of bike share programs nationwide involves the lack of docking stations in lower-income areas. Indeed, the GoBike expansion has drawn criticism for limited expansion in the less-affluent parts of the East Bay area. But in this case, the absence of infrastructure comes from the neighborhood itself, which said “no, thank you” to bike-share docks.
That wrinkle comes after two years of community engagement planning the expansion of the network by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Motivate. According to Motivate, the process involved more than 340 meetings with community organizations, civic leaders, elected officials, and business groups, as well over 30 neighborhood workshops, to work on where to put bike docking stations. “We want to make sure GoBike is planned by Bay Area residents, for Bay Area residents,” Motivate spokesperson Dani Simons says.
Equity issues were a major focus of those meetings. It was prodding from activists that produced the idea of the “Bike Share for All” program, which offers a $5 first-year membership for residents who qualify for the Lifeline utility assistance program. (After the first year, he membership fee becomes $5 monthly.) The program also makes it possible for people to rent bikes without a credit or debit card. “We want this system to be accessible to people who have the biggest mobility needs, to help make it easier for them to move around the city,” says Simons. “It is crazy that poorer people essentially pay a double tax in terms of housing and transportation. Part of the solution space for affordability is helping provide better, reliable, affordable mobility option for people.”