E-bike pilot program provides discounted subscription for 30-min rides
By now, BCycle’s white electric bikes and their docks can often be spotted around downtown Santa Barbara.
The recent pilot program — an effort by the city to determine if a bike sharing system fits Santa Barbara — is offering a low-income pass option for residents who may not be able to afford monthly or annual passes.
The monthly pass costs $30, and the annual, $150. Both include unlimited 30-minute trips and charge $3 for every additional 30 minutes after that. However, eligible low-income residents have the opportunity to pay just $25 for an annual pass — and no one has signed up yet.
“This program has always been an important part of bike share and to the city of Santa Barbara,” Jesse Rosenberg, general manager of BCycle, told the News-Press. “Bike share is about serving all demographics of the community, and if we are not hitting everyone, we are not successfully completing our bike share mission: Change the world by getting more people on bikes.”
There are currently around 140 docks in the ground and 70 bikes around downtown Santa Barbara, upper State Street and the Eastside and Westside. On average, Ms. Rosenberg said BCycle sees anywhere from 100 to 120 rides per day, with anywhere from 58 to 80 riders per day.
The organization’s goal is to reach 1,500 trips per week, but it is currently under 1,000 trips per week.
“We are thrilled with the progress we have made since the launch on Jan. 28,” Ms. Rosenberg said.
BCycle is in the midst of adding 35 to 40 more docks this month, after implementing 24 in the upper State Street area near Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. The bike share program needs a coastal development permit next, and once that is obtained, 100 additional docks will be added.
“There is one last appeal process we are going through with the Planning Commission,” BCycle’s manager said. “Our meeting date is targeted for the second week of May, so as much support as we can rally from the local community to bring bike share to the waterfront and Cabrillo (Boulevard) is highly encouraged. This will elevate and really open up our program to be extremely successful and serve all those riders who want to ride and park near the waterfront.”
Rob Dayton, the city’s transportation manager, agreed that opening the program up to the waterfront will truly indicate its effectiveness.
“We see a lot of people trying to go to the waterfront on the bikes, but then there’s no place to toss the bike, so, inevitably, they end up coming back,” he told the News-Press. “Right now, I would characterize it as we’re still implementing the rollout of the program … I think it’s going really well. I think when we’re done installing the system, that’s when we’ll really understand how it’s going.
“We’re trying to measure: Is this an effective tool for Santa Barbara? Does it fit within Santa Barbara in terms of the (climate) goals for transportation?”
Low-income residents eligible for the $25 annual pass include any customer with an income level at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Starting at one person per household, the individual must make $25,520 or less, followed by $34,480 for two people per household, $43,440 for three and $52,400 for four individuals in the household. Applications are available in both English and Spanish.
“We want everybody to be able to use our quasi-public system, so it’s a really good thing to have a low barrier for people who can’t afford the $150 a year,” Mr. Dayton said. “We’re hopeful that will provide a low barrier entry point so we get participation during the trial period from many different socioeconomic people of Santa Barbara.”
Visit santabarbara.bcycle.com or download the BCycle app for more information or to purchase a pass. For the low-income option, email email@example.com.