Sacramento is our state’s capitol, and it appears that they are about to catch up to many other major cities in California. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments has officially finalized a deal with a bike share program called Social Bicycles that will bring access to bikes to Sacramento, West Sacramento, and Davis.
How will bike sharing work in Sacramento?
It might surprise you, if you’ve ever been to Sacramento, that a bike share program isn’t already in place. After all, Sacramento is flat and has relatively pleasant bicycling weather for a large part of the year, which would seem to make it an ideal location for the casual cyclist who just needs to get around town from time to time.
However, the capital city and surrounding areas are just getting their first bike share through a program call Social Bicycles this year.
Social Bicycles, also known as SoBi, is a New York-based company that currently operates bike share programs in 35 cities around the world, including Portland and Los Angeles. The Sacramento area will be starting out with 100 bikes and 20 docking stations in West Sacramento and downtown Sacramento, although the program is expected to expand.
According to an article in the Sacramento Bee:
“Costs will vary depending on whether a rider buys a monthly membership or rides casually. The rental rates typically will be $4 an hour, prorated to the minute. The average trip in other cities is slightly less than 15 minutes, which is a $1 ride, SoBi founder and CEO Ryan Rzepecki said.
Monthly memberships will cost $15 and will give the member a free hour of riding daily. Student discount memberships will cost $30 for a year and allow an hour free daily as well.”
Social Bicycles will eventually put rentable bicycles and bike racks throughout the cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento, and Davis. Riders will be able to locate nearby bicycles using a smartphone app, and each bike is equipped with GPS to help prevent theft.
The program will be largely funded by grants, although the city is also looking to corporate sponsors to help underwrite the new bike share system.
At the same time as this deal was being negotiated, West Sacramento was also looking into getting their own bike sharing system through a recently launched company called LimeBike, based in San Mateo.
However, over the course of negotiations with Social Bicycles and local bicycle coalition leaders, West Sacramento decided to drop their work with LimeBike and instead focus on bringing enough Social Bicycles into their city to support their population.
Why bicycle sharing programs are so important
Bike share programs might seem like a small improvement, but they can actually have a huge impact on a city and the people who live there.
First, bike sharing makes it possible for more people to enjoy cycling, because they increase access to the casual cyclist who may not own a bike but who would choose to ride a bike on certain occasions. On a nice day, who wouldn’t rather hop on a bike for a ride downtown rather than sitting in traffic or on a bus? Bike shares encourage people who don’t own bikes or who don’t bike frequently to try it out — which adds up to more happiness for cyclists and less pollution for the city.
In addition, bike sharing programs also ideally make money for the city. Although the rates tend to be affordable enough for most people to utilize the service fairly easily, many of the dollars put into the bike rentals will go back to the city through contracts established with the bike share company.
Bike share systems also give a great options to tourists for getting around your city. Instead of staying within a short radius of their hotel, or piling in a car to shuttle from landmark to landmark, tourists on bikes can explore the city and really get to know it. By being friendly and accessible to visitors from out of town, cities can encourage tourism which supports local businesses and the economy.
Will you use the bike share program in Sacramento?
Not every bike share program is successful, although many California cities have seen great results from implementing bike shares. What do you think of the new program in Sacramento? If you live in or visit that area, will you use it? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!
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