Mechanic Emily Sullivan works on a rather furry bike at the Santa Monica Bike Center on Thursday. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

Mechanic Emily Sullivan works on a rather furry bike at the Santa Monica Bike Center on Thursday. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

COLORADO AVE — Business is bustling at the Santa Monica Bike Center.

On Friday, the center rented and returned 80 bikes, but still had about 50 to 60 rented out, mostly to tourists, said Ron Durgin, general manager.

The bike center, run by Bike & Park, is located in a prime location on Second Street and Colorado Avenue just a block from the world-famous Santa Monica Pier where thousands of tourists pass by every day, some peering in or stopping by the center to ask questions about various cargo, trek and mountain bikes.

“Location, location, location,” Durgin said. “I think [that] really helps. We get a lot of walk by traffic and then I think word of mouth. We ride bikes [and] hire people who have knowledge about riding.”

The bike center was created in November 2011 in an effort to provide a sustainable method of transportation, limiting car trips in and out of the city by the sea.

Almost two years later, the center is breaking City Hall and bike officials’ expectations. As City Manager Rod Gould put it, the bike center is doing “gangbuster business” and “exceeding revenue projections.”

Durgin said the center saw more than 3,000 member visits last month and boasts more than 200 members who use the center’s facilities, which include lockers and showers for commuters to get fresh and clean before heading to work. When the Exposition Light Rail Line opens in 2016, city officials hope more people choose to leave their cars at home and bike to a nearby rail stop. The line ends at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue, just two blocks from the center.

City officials said the bike center has provided $106,826 in revenue to City Hall since its opening. The agreement between City Hall and the Bike Center calls for a base rent of $17,500 per year with a 5 percent annual increase, plus a 15 percent share of gross sales once they rise above $250,000. Gross sales come from rental and retail and excludes membership and day parking fees. In the first year of operation, the center paid City Hall $78,287.

The center hopes to make a million dollars in revenue “soon,” Durgin said. The retail side of the business is the revenue generating arm, while membership fees help pay for the ongoing maintenance of the facility, he said.

Half of the center’s business comes from foreigners, Durgin said. On the weekends more locals tend to show up, as well as folks from the inland areas or the San Fernando Valley who are trying to beat the heat.

The 10 employees rent out trek, Dutch and cargo bikes, among other varieties.

In July, Durgin said the center averaged 135 bike rentals a day and valeted 150 to 200 bikes each month. Bike valet is free for the first two hours, and $1 each additional hour, or $5 maximum for the day. To rent a bike for an adult, it’s $20 for two hours or $30 for the whole day. Durgin said there’s a two-hour minimum. To become a member, it’s $15 a month or $99 for one year, he said.

At Fourth Street and Broadway, there is additional self-service bike parking for members.

Durgin said the center has become a “resource for people.” Folks may come in to look around, pump up a flat bike tire or rent bikes for a day at the beach. He said the bikes, which number around 200, are constantly maintained and every bike is rotated out every two weeks to get a tune-up.

“We like to focus on quality bikes that are well-maintained and equipped,” Durgin said.

 

ameera@smdp.com

 

 

 

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