DOWNTOWN — Bike sharing, the practice of communities loaning out bikes to people to take short, local trips, is used throughout Europe and other cities in the United States. Santa Monica has used a similar program for city employees since June 2010, but there are plans to create a public system for residents.
On Wednesday, July 20, local transportation officials and Global Green USA will be hosting a public forum to familiarize Santa Monica residents with proposed plans for a public bike sharing program. A solar-powered bike sharing station will be on display, and bikes will be available for test rides.
Global Green USA, the entity co-hosting the event, is a Southern California-based, nonprofit organization that fights global climate change through energy efficiency, according to Gina Goodhill, policy and legislature associate at Global Green USA.
Although Global Green USA has helped cities, including Santa Monica, create solar energy programs, this is the first time that the organization has worked toward making a bike sharing plan, Goodhill said.
“We have some of the best weather in the United States, we have really flat terrain, and we are a hub of tourist activity,” Goodhill said, citing reasons why Global Green USA believes that Santa Monica is a prime candidate for a bike share program. “It would be a great opportunity for Santa Monica to utilize the natural resources we have to get people out of their cars, out of traffic.”
Goodhill also compared the small community of Santa Monica to college campuses which have utilized bike sharing programs. UC Irvine has used a bike sharing program since October, 2009, that the college’s students, faculty and staff have embraced, said Lynn Harris, senior analyst of parking and transportation at UC Irvine.
Santa Monica already has a bike share for city employees, the Bike@Work program. This program allows city employees to check out bicycles to make trips around Santa Monica instead of using their cars. But City Hall is eager to install a version of the program that’s available to the public that might unclog traffic while staying environmentally friendly.
“The City Council in Santa Monica has said that by 2030 they want to have no more new car trips. Our whole overall land use and transport strategy is geared toward relying less on automobiles so that we won’t pollute as much,” said Lucy Dyke, transportation planning manager for City Hall.
Santa Monica has also been recommended for a grant that would supply the city with the funds necessary for getting the program rolling.
“We think we’re going to get almost two-and-a-half million dollars for the program in 2016,” Dyke said.
The projected program would utilize 29 stations and 345 bikes in total, according to Goodhill. However, many of the details about the number of bikes, their locations, and payment plans for bike usage are still in flux. Global Green USA wants to use the meeting on Wednesday as a way of getting in touch with the citizens of Santa Monica themselves.
“Part of what we want to do is talk to the community and ask direct questions, such as, where do you want to see a bike station? It would be really great to get feedback from the community that we can use,” Goodhill said.