Bike sharing expands into East Bay

Ford GoBike staged a news conference at Latham Square in downtown Oakland Tuesday morning to roll out the bike share program’s expansion to the East Bay.

As of Tuesday there were 400 bicycles at 40 stations in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, but Ford GoBike plans to stock 120 stations in those cities with 1,500 bikes by Sept. 4 and 7,000 bikes at 546 stations around the region.

Jay Walder, CEO of Motivate, a company that operates other bike share programs in Portland, Oregon; Chicago; New York; Boston and Washington, D.C., called it the “culmination of a vision” that will “transform how people get around” the East Bay.

Transit officials stressed that bike share bikes can be paid for with the Clipper card, which can also be used to pay for fares on BART and regional bus systems, and that there is a substantial discount available for low-income commuters through the Bike Share for All program.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said:

“We have stations in every community to serve every income level, and we are offering our qualified low-income residents a year’s membership for just $5. … For our residents who are not ‘banked,’ we will accept cash at the Oakland main library and the Fruitvale BART station.”

Full price annual memberships cost $149 and include unlimited 45-minute trips. A 24-hour pass that includes unlimited 30-minute trips is also available for $9.95.

Bike rental companies catering primarily to tourists and recreational customers have expressed concerns about how the new bike share program will affect business, but a spokeswoman for Motivate said the organization has worked with stakeholders to minimize those impacts.

Ford GoBike initially marketed their service as a means of riding popular tourist routes through San Francisco and offered a three-hour pass for $15 that Jeff Sears, president and CEO of the Blazing Saddles bike rental company, called “impossible to compete with,” but the program has permanently removed those options from its website.

Ford GoBike is a collaboration between Motivate and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency overseeing transportation planning and financing in the Bay Area.

It is also an expanded and re-branded reiteration of the Bay Area Bike Share program. Bay Area Bike Share customer accounts are being transferred over to Ford GoBike automatically with a credit for 60 minutes of free riding time, according to www.fordgobike.com.