- Los Angeles could be set for more bikes in its Metro Bike Share program after the LA City Council’s Transportation Committee approved an expansion plan by the LA Department of Transportation (LADOT).
- LADOT proposed adding 1,000 bikes in central Los Angeles and 700 more on the Westside, just 20 months after the program began operating.
- The proposal, unanimously approved at the committee level, needs assent by the full LA City Council. Streetsblog LA notes the city will likely see grant funding for the expansion, as only partial funding is available from local dollars.
Based on statistics provided in a memo by LADOT, the city’s bike-sharing program appears to have been a moderate success in its first 20 months. Ridership has totaled just over 395,000 trips that have traveled over 1.1 million miles, with more than 12,000 program passes sold and, LADOT says, carbon dioxide emissions reduced by more than 1 million pounds citywide.
And it appears this latest proposed expansion fills a need in certain areas of the city. LADOT said each bike in downtown Los Angeles has been ridden 0.74 times per day on average, while that number rises to 1.2 times per day in Venice on the Westside. Although, Streetsblog LA reports, those numbers lag the likes of large cities such as New York City (3.6 rides per day); Boston and Washington, DC (both 2.1 rides per day); and Chicago and San Francisco (both 1.7 rides per day).
Los Angeles has made noise about becoming more sustainable and turning a corner from its legendary traffic congestion and over-reliance on the automobile, a plan that has gained more focus after the city was named the "most polluted" by the American Lung Association. But the city remains somewhat unfriendly to bicyclists, a factor that has discouraged people to use the shared bikes.
To encourage more riders, the bike-share program is looking at restructuring its fare program, including "considering discounted monthly passes for eligible low-income members, students, and seniors," the LADOT memo reads. Committee chair and LA Councilmember Mike Bonin reportedly said the $3.50 per ride fare as "twice as high as it should be," and way above the $1-per-ride fee for the private dockless bike-share companies popping up in city communities. With dockless regulations set to come before the Transportation Committee next month and fares up for discussion, there is a long way to go before Los Angeles can say its bike-sharing program is successful.