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City's bike-share program needs help, says report

Transit system says DecoBike hasn't sought out new locations

DecoBike kiosk
DecoBike kiosk

A May San Diego County County Grand Jury report accuses officials at the Metropolitan Transit System of refusing to get onboard with the city's bike-sharing program.

DecoBike, launched in 2013, has been touted as a step in the right direction in moving San Diego closer to a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly city, as laid out in San Diego's climate action plan. The program allows visitors to rent bikes at kiosks — $5 for a half hour, $7 for an hour, $12 for two hours, with monthly and annual memberships available. The kiosks are sited near busy transit centers and popular tourist attractions. Cyclists are allowed to return the bikes to any DecoBike kiosk throughout the city.

The company spent $8 million to build the kiosks and install the required infrastructure. In exchange, the city allowed the company to use the public right-of-way (sidewalks and other areas for the bike racks). The city also granted DecoBike the right to offer ad space at kiosks and on the bikes.

But, grand jury members found that the local transit agency, as well as a few beach communities, have been "uncooperative" and have prevented the program from gaining momentum. In the case of the transit agency, grand jury members criticized Metropolitan Transit System officials for refusing to allow DecoBike kiosks near busy bus and trolley stations, one of which is at the busy transit hub in Old Town.

"...[W]hile kiosks are located throughout the urban core, they are not co-located with transit stops, which is crucial to the program’s goal of solving the 'last mile' issue and connecting to public transportation," reads the May 2016 grand jury report. "The Metropolitan Transit System has been uncooperative in allowing bikeshare stations near transit stops.... [Metropolitan Transit System] needs to come to the table."

Transit agency spokesperson Rob Schupp says Metropolitan Transit System has been at the table all along.

"We have been fully cooperative with DecoBike. We fully support placing their stations at our facilities where they would not pose a safety concern — most of our trolley stations are narrow and cannot accommodate a DecoBike station," said Schupp in a July 7 email.

"In fact, we are in a marketing partnership with them right now that pairs MTS passes with DecoBike memberships."

Schupp says that there have been logistical issues with the kiosks. For instance, Metropolitan Transit System denied placing a bike kiosk near a Rapid Bus Station along El Cajon Boulevard due to safety and accessibility concerns.

As for kiosks at Old Town's transit station, says Schupp, "[Metropolitan Transit System] met with DecoBike a couple of times and designated a spot for them at the corner of Taylor and Congress, a highly visible corner. They never installed a station there. I don’t know why.... To my knowledge, DecoBike has not reached out to us in the last year to request more locations."

The grand jury also found that opportunities to get people out of cars and onto DecoBikes has been squandered in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

The report says residents claim installing the kiosks throughout the community will have a negative impact on bike and beach rental shops. Not so, reads the report.

"To the extent that bikesharing targets casual tourist riders, there may be some competition, although no rental shop has offered proof of income loss. However, the two rental options are very different operationally," found grand jury members.

Among the reasons for the difference, "traditional bike rentals usually must be returned within normal business hours to the same location they were rented, while bikesharing is available 24/7 at multiple locations. In fact, 44 [percent] of DecoBike’s Pacific Beach boardwalk rentals occur outside bike shop business hours."

Hoping to boost ridership and bike rentals, the grand jury recommended that the city designate a point person who can act as a spokesperson and address placement and accessibility concerns, as well as to promote the program.

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DecoBike kiosk
DecoBike kiosk

A May San Diego County County Grand Jury report accuses officials at the Metropolitan Transit System of refusing to get onboard with the city's bike-sharing program.

DecoBike, launched in 2013, has been touted as a step in the right direction in moving San Diego closer to a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly city, as laid out in San Diego's climate action plan. The program allows visitors to rent bikes at kiosks — $5 for a half hour, $7 for an hour, $12 for two hours, with monthly and annual memberships available. The kiosks are sited near busy transit centers and popular tourist attractions. Cyclists are allowed to return the bikes to any DecoBike kiosk throughout the city.

The company spent $8 million to build the kiosks and install the required infrastructure. In exchange, the city allowed the company to use the public right-of-way (sidewalks and other areas for the bike racks). The city also granted DecoBike the right to offer ad space at kiosks and on the bikes.

But, grand jury members found that the local transit agency, as well as a few beach communities, have been "uncooperative" and have prevented the program from gaining momentum. In the case of the transit agency, grand jury members criticized Metropolitan Transit System officials for refusing to allow DecoBike kiosks near busy bus and trolley stations, one of which is at the busy transit hub in Old Town.

"...[W]hile kiosks are located throughout the urban core, they are not co-located with transit stops, which is crucial to the program’s goal of solving the 'last mile' issue and connecting to public transportation," reads the May 2016 grand jury report. "The Metropolitan Transit System has been uncooperative in allowing bikeshare stations near transit stops.... [Metropolitan Transit System] needs to come to the table."

Transit agency spokesperson Rob Schupp says Metropolitan Transit System has been at the table all along.

"We have been fully cooperative with DecoBike. We fully support placing their stations at our facilities where they would not pose a safety concern — most of our trolley stations are narrow and cannot accommodate a DecoBike station," said Schupp in a July 7 email.

"In fact, we are in a marketing partnership with them right now that pairs MTS passes with DecoBike memberships."

Schupp says that there have been logistical issues with the kiosks. For instance, Metropolitan Transit System denied placing a bike kiosk near a Rapid Bus Station along El Cajon Boulevard due to safety and accessibility concerns.

As for kiosks at Old Town's transit station, says Schupp, "[Metropolitan Transit System] met with DecoBike a couple of times and designated a spot for them at the corner of Taylor and Congress, a highly visible corner. They never installed a station there. I don’t know why.... To my knowledge, DecoBike has not reached out to us in the last year to request more locations."

The grand jury also found that opportunities to get people out of cars and onto DecoBikes has been squandered in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

The report says residents claim installing the kiosks throughout the community will have a negative impact on bike and beach rental shops. Not so, reads the report.

"To the extent that bikesharing targets casual tourist riders, there may be some competition, although no rental shop has offered proof of income loss. However, the two rental options are very different operationally," found grand jury members.

Among the reasons for the difference, "traditional bike rentals usually must be returned within normal business hours to the same location they were rented, while bikesharing is available 24/7 at multiple locations. In fact, 44 [percent] of DecoBike’s Pacific Beach boardwalk rentals occur outside bike shop business hours."

Hoping to boost ridership and bike rentals, the grand jury recommended that the city designate a point person who can act as a spokesperson and address placement and accessibility concerns, as well as to promote the program.

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Comments
11

DecoBike sucks. Its balloon-tire bikes are meant for flat places, its "kiosks" are unsightly and take up too much space and the company (based in Miami) was unceremoniously denied access to La Jolla locations. No loss. It's un-American lo let these guys set up in P.B. where longtime bike rental shops try to eke out a living.

July 8, 2016

The bikes are overpriced and undersized. I ride past them a few days a week, only tourists ride them, and not often. The Kiosk near Chrystal Pier couldn't deface a better location, but they don't rent. The bikes wouldn't be worth $50.00 for sale.

July 8, 2016

Deco is being pushed as a "last mile" solution because the City will generate income from them.

I agree that the storage racks take up way too much space and should be angled to the curb so as too take up less sidewalk space.

I'd like to see them and their advertising be eliminated because it just makes San Diego look cheap! If Council Members and/or the Mayor want to put up sponsored ads on their offices I'm all for it because then we can see who is paying who for access to our elected leaders!

July 8, 2016

A great suggestion to advertise "sponsorships" of our sold-out elected officials. DecoBike's contract was approved by former Mayor Jerry $anders who now heads the $D Chamber of Commerce.

Though the beat goes on, this "last mile" baloney and "densification" of development along "transportation corridors" are destroying San Diego. And the sheeple are expected to take what's proffered.

More bigger wider freeways -- take a harrowing drive on ever-expanding I-5/I-805 heading North. More multi-story condos built along bus-routes that once were bordered by a mix of human-scale residential and commercial structures -- longtime fave white-stucco-and-red-tile Su Casa Restaurant on La Jolla Blvd. is slated for tear-down and redevelopment. More confusing Kelly green streets sacrifice curbside parking allegedly to accommodate cyclists AND cars in a confusing mish-mash -- but what rules apply to these green roads?

It's no accident that what once was called the City Planning Department is now called Development Services.

July 9, 2016

Founder, do you know if the backlit advertising displays have been installed in any of Deco Bike's locations?

Last July, there was an article announcing that "OUTFRONT [Media Inc.] has also entered into a partnership with Miami-based DECOBIKE, LLC to include advertising and sponsorship on the San Diego Bike Share System. This program will consist of 180 stations, 160 of which will be equipped with double-sided, shelter-sized backlit advertising displays. This new advertising platform is currently being rolled-out, and the first advertising displays are expected to be installed this August, with an anticipated completion by the end of 2015."

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/outfront-media-expands-coverage-in-southern-california-with-new-bus-and-bike-share-programs-300110903.html

July 12, 2016

Agree, strategy will never work especially when the cost of the 'last mile' exceeds the cost of original journey.

July 15, 2016

There are many kinds of pollution. In addition to the air and water pollution we face a barrage of daily insults that threaten our spirit and our souls. You might consider the noise of helicopters, jets, garbage trucks, leaf blowers and constant construction for instance. When was the last time you had a moment of silence in the City? And light pollution means that our biorhythms can never experience the true darkness we need for healthy sleep; we can never see the stars. It's a subtle thing that we don't think about consciously but it has a powerful effect on our well-being.

These ugly bicycles with their advertising and kiosks scattered around our otherwise somewhat attractive areas are another incremental insult to our eyes. Is everything for sale in San Diego? Must we splash billboards, bus bench ads, trolleys and buildings with advertising? Have we no soul left?

July 10, 2016

The contract between San Diego and Deco Bike is interesting. To see how important the advertising revenue is, read page 30 of the following pdf: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2013/LUH_130619_6.pdf

My favorite picture of a row of Deco Bikes: http://www.10news.com/news/driver-crashes-car-on-top-of-decobike-station-02072015 This is such a great photo, I just can't understand why it didn't get much attention. News 10 seemed to be the only local channel to post the photo. The entire bike rack had been removed, disappeared, leaving no trace of anything, by dawn. Considered bad PR by the City and Deco Bike?

July 11, 2016

HonestGov — No I have not seen any ads on the Deco stands, I predict they will become "magnets" for surf/skate stickers and even less appealing "anti-art" as everyone laughs at all the tourists using Deco.

July 14, 2016

The promo article about the international advertising conglomerate, now named Outfront Media (formerly CBS), mentioned "shelter-sized" backlit LED displays. That would be truly intrusive in the locations in our coastal and older neighborhoods.

July 14, 2016

swell — Yes everything is for sale except for the things that are important to the Ultra wealthy and/or well connected, which will remain as they are until some group desides differently!

Behold $an Diego, where the rich rule the rest of US.

July 14, 2016

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