Ford backs Bay Area bike sharing, commuter shuttles

A program that allows riders to rent bikes at designated Bay Area Bike Share locations announced a major sponsorship agreement Friday morning in San Francisco.

At a news conference at Civic Center Plaza, with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in attendance, officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission announced they had struck a sponsorship deal with Ford Motor Company.

Ford CEO Mark Fields said of the deal would provide thousands of Ford Go bikes to the Bay Area Bike Share program, which is operated by the company Motivate, which is contracted through the MTC.

During the event, Fields also announced that Ford had acquired the San Francisco-based commuter shuttle service provider Chariot. Chariot allows passengers to hail a shuttle through its mobile phone application, along fixed routes during commute times.

Fields said:

“Cities, nationally and globally, are facing extraordinary new challenges; and gridlock is not only affecting economic growth but pollution is affecting our health and also the environment and it’s very clear the that transportation environment that we’ve developed during the last 100 years is not going to work for the next 100 years.”

Motivate announced last year a planned tenfold expansion of the popular program, from 700 to 7,000 bikes, which would bring it to the East Bay cities of Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville by 2018.

Bates said:

“This is the future. We believe very strongly in Berkeley that we want a walk-able, bike-able city and we’re now in the process of doing our bicycle plan to make sure that we make it as safe and convenient as possible.”

Bay Area Bike Share already has dozens of stations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.

For the planned expansion, Motivate has already identified more than 120 sites for possible future bike share stations in the Bay Area, Santa Clara County Supervisor and MTC chair Dave Cortese said.

In an effort to make the program more accessible, at least 20 percent of the new stations would be placed in neighborhoods with low-income residents. Additionally, residents already enrolled in utilities lifeline programs would be eligible for low-cost bike share memberships, according to Cortese.