CITYWIDE — Santa Monica could be the first city in the region to approve a significant bikesharing program.

On Tuesday, City Council will consider authorizing a $10.4 million contract with CycleHop to add a 500-bike system in the city by the sea.

Bikeshares allow riders to check-out bikes from one station and drop them off at any other station in the city. City Hall’s proposal would likely include 65 to 75 stations, all on public property.

Riders could pay $2 for every 20 minutes of use or buy memberships ranging from $15 to $25 per month.

Grant funding would cover about $2 million and rider fees would pitch in an estimated $1.26 million each year.

But even those two funding sources won’t cover the cost of the whole system, city officials say. They recommended soliciting for bids from a corporate sponsor that would pay between $250,000 and $500,000 annually to display its messaging on the bikes.

“Additional revenue to augment user fees through corporate messaging is proposed to be consistent with Big Blue Bus advertising guidelines,” city officials said. “Accordingly, messages may appear on the bikes and website, but not on fixed, permanent signs at the stations or elsewhere in the public right of way.”

If all goes smoothly, the bikeshare could be in place before the opening of the Expo Light Rail next year.

There are advantages and disadvantages to jumping out in front of neighboring cities, including Los Angeles, in approving this bikesharing plan.

For one thing, that $2 million in grant funding expires relatively soon. If council decides to wait, they could lose that cash.

Secondly, they could set the precedent for the region, causing other cities to adopt a bikesharing program that’s compatible with Santa Monica’s.

On the other hand, Metro is currently working on a model for a regional bikeshare system. It’s possible that their system won’t integrate easily with Santa Monica’s. Metro has asked City Hall to delay its contract until they’ve made a selection. City Hall is recommending against that.

CycleHop currently has contracts for systems in Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, and Ottawa.

City officials estimated that 370,000 trips would be taken on the bikes each year.

dave@smdp.com

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