Wiener unhappy with slow bike-sharing rollout

At a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Scott Wiener spoke for the people, urging The City to implement a full-scale, city-wide bike share program by next year.

Wiener wouldn’t have had to go to bat this week if the pilot program had been launched on time (originally promised to be summer of 2012), or if it’s imminent inception was delivering the original 1,000 bikes (now cut to 700, with 350 of them in San Francisco).

But the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, leading the pilot, has put the brakes on bikes for the time being, citing a growing price tag and challenges faced by coordinating a system that is spread across the Peninsula in five different cities –  San Francisco, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Jose.

As is, San Francisco’s program has been limited to 35 downtown stations and a miniscule number of bikes. A new launch date has been set for this August. BAAQMD expects to meet the promised grand total of 1,000 bikes within the following six months.

Wiener urged the SF Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday to push past the BAAQMD program and move forward on its own so that by 2014, everyone in San Francisco would be able to rent a bike. He said in a statement:

“All over the world, cities are recognizing the tremendous value of city-wide bike-share programs in reducing traffic, improving public transit and stimulating the local economy. Here in San Francisco, we should be doing everything we can to establish and start reaping the benefits from a full-scale bike share program.”

San Francisco is falling behind in the bike-share race. New York City, Chicago, Portland, Washington D.C. and Boston all either have programs in place or plans to create them. And don’t even get started on the huge success of bike-share programs in international cities like London, Amsterdam and Paris.

Wiener also cited Hangzhou, China, as an example of the boons of bike sharing: After the city’s 60,000 bike program was put into place, 78 percent of car owners used bike share for trips they used to take by car.

But, like anything else, the program costs money that the city doesn’t have right now. Wiener hopes that a full-scale program would be funded by public-private partnerships.

The BAAQMD also plans to launch a request for sponsorships by next week.

Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation, told SF StreetsBlog the agency is “excited to move forward with the first phase of our bike-sharing program this summer,” but didn’t comment on the possibility of going full-throttle with Wiener’s proposal.