Options for bikeshare in the Bay Area keep expanding, and the SFMTA is working hard to make sure it happens right for the City and County of San Francisco. Our bikeshare team coordinates with local and regional partner agencies, manages the review and permitting process for both our station-based and stationless operators, works with the private operators to plan and deliver service, and manages and enforces all the necessary contracts and permits.
In 2013 we partnered with public agencies throughout the Bay Area to plan and implement the original Bay Area Bike Share pilot project and we are now leading San Francisco’s efforts to work with our private sector partner to expand the system to over ten times its pilot size. With sponsorship from the Ford Motor Company, in summer of 2017, Motivate, the Bay Area Bikeshare operator since 2014, began to roll out a major expansion of San Francisco's bikeshare network that will culminate in 320 stations and 4,500 bikes, ultimately covering approximately half the city—all at no capital or operational expense to taxpayers. The expanded regional system has since been re-branded with all-new equipment as Bay Wheels.
In 2017, as independent stationless bikeshare emerged as a big new trend, we were among the first U.S. cities to create a regulatory and permitting framework to address this fast-moving phenomenon and insure that bikeshare in all its forms is safe, orderly and equitable for all San Franciscans.
Equity is a key component of the SFMTA’s approach to bikeshare. A requirement for at least 20% of stations to be located in low-income communities promotes equitable distribution of service. And the Bikeshare for All subsidized membership program makes membership accessible to low-come individuals. Anyone who qualifies for a Muni Lifeline Pass, Calfresh or PG&E’s CARE utility program can sign up for the one-time $5 annual affordability membership. Cash payment is accepted, so a credit card is not required, and the Bikeshare for All membership includes trips up to a full hour without redocking. After the first year, low-income members pay $5 per month.
Who and what is bikeshare intended for?
Basically it’s for anyone who wants or needs to make a short trip by bike. Bikeshare is great for stand-alone trips and is often the quickest, most affordable way to get around. It’s also ideal as a first- and last-mile option for longer trips by transit, which is why Bay Wheels' highest use stations are near regional transit connections. Bay Wheels' pricing is structured to encourage short trips, and we’ve found that because it’s such a useful transportation option for the busiest travel times, mainly Bay Area residents and commuters are using Bay Wheels, although it’s also popular with tourists who are looking for a shorter, more flexible bike rental. It may be surprising, but many bikeshare members have their own bikes. A survey of Bay Area Bikeshare members found that 75% of members owned one or more bicycle.
System Planning and Station Siting
You may have noticed the solar-powered, automated bikeshare stations on San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks and wondered, “Why is this here?”
Experience from other cities in Europe and North America has shown that to maximize utility and customer satisfaction, bikeshare stations should be spaced on average every 2 to 3 blocks throughout the service area so that stations are within an easy five-minute walk of one another.
Factors considered when determining ideal locations for stations within the service area include topography, job density, transit connections, bike rack requests, proximity to the bikeway network and general support of station neighbors. Station locations are prioritized to complement regional transportation connections like BART, Caltrain, ferries and the Transbay Terminal. The locations also provide convenient options for residents, commuters and visitors making short trips to and from these facilities, to places of employment and residences, and to social and recreational destinations.
More details on system planning and station siting can be found on the Bay Wheels expansion webpage including information about which proposed stations will be at upcoming SFMTA Engineering Public Hearings.
Bay Area Bike Share Pilot
The SFMTA, in partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), brought Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) to San Francisco in August 2013 with 350 bikes and 35 stations. After four successful years as a small-scale proof-of-concept, the service shut down on June 11, 2017 in preparation for a major expansion and rebranding as Ford GoBike, and now Bay Wheels. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission commissioned an evaluation of the BABS pilot, available here. The SFMTA’s online bikeshare dashboard displays detailed ride data from the pilot.
In June 2017, the SFMTA finalized the first permit application for stationless bicycle sharing programs. In January 2018, San Francisco’s first permit to operate a stationless bikeshare service was issued to JUMP Bikes, a stationless electric-assist bikeshare service. The JUMP permit allowed for a pilot program of up to 500 stationless electric bikes in San Francisco. Details of the pilot can be found in this January 2018 SFMTA blog post and in the accompanying pilot evaluation.
With lessons learned from both the Stationless Bikeshare Pilot and the Powered Scooter Share Permit, the SFMTA is scaling up the Stationless Bikeshare Permit toward citywide service. All qualified operators are encouraged to submit the new permit application between May 28, 2019 to June 24, 2019. The SFMTA anticipates issuing a limited number of stationless bikeshare permits in consideration of maintaining clarity and usability for customers, and ease of program administration.
Permit application documents include the following:
- Permit Application
- Permit Application Scorecard
- Distribution Guidelines
- Community Engagement Guidelines
The SFMTA will hold a Question and Answer Session for the permit application on Friday, June 7, 2019, 1pm to 2pm, at 1 South Van Ness, on the 8th floor. Questions should be submitted in writing by 5pm on June 5, 2019 to email@example.com. Only clarifying questions will be allowed during the session. All questions and answers will be posted online and distributed to the attendees following the session. No other questions will be considered after this session.
Questions about the permit may be directed to the SFMTA’s Bicycle Sharing Program Manager Adrian Leung (415) 646-2533 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions or operational complaints about the JUMP service such as broken, stolen, abandoned or mis-parked bikes should be directed to JUMP: Support@jumpbikes.com
Questions or complaints about LimeBike should be directed to LimeBike: email@example.com; Call: 1 (888)-LIME-345; Text: 1 (888)-546-3345. LimeBike is not permitted to operate in San Francisco.
Real-time station and bike data as well as detailed historical trip data for the Bay Wheels system can be found on Bay Wheels' data webpage.
The SFMTA maintains two interactive Tableau dashboards for San Francisco bikeshare trip data that will allow you to query and analyze all the anonymous trip data by date, time, membership type and origin/destination:
- The Bay Area Bikeshare Pilot Trip Data Dashboard (Sept. 2013-Jun. 2017); and
- The San Francisco Bay Wheels Trip Data Dashboard. (after July 2017)