Berkeley residents will no longer need to worry about maintaining bicycles that tend to disappear thanks to a new program that will allow riders to rent bicycles and have an easy and green way to get from place to place.
Bay Area Bike Share — which allows members to check out bicycles for up to 30 minutes at a time and return them to various “pods” throughout the city — started in August of last year after already operating throughout the peninsula and South Bay. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Programming and Allocations Committee voted Wednesday to allocate $8.7 million to the bike share program to expand the program to the East Bay, which is expected to happen next spring.
“If you go to school at Cal, you can use the bikes to go to the BART station or go run errands,” said Renee Rivera, executive director of Bike East Bay. “If you want to go to the Exploratorium or Fisherman’s Wharf, you can do that using a Bike Share bike.”
Some possible locations for the 60 bike pods and 750 bicycles that Oakland and Berkeley will receive include BART stations and UC Berkeley, according to Charles Burress — assistant to Mayor Tom Bates — who sits on the committee.
According to Burress, Bates hopes the bike share will promote green energy in line with the Climate Action Plan that was adopted by the City Council in 2009.
In addition to implementing the bike share system, Berkeley will also use $1 million of the new funding for improvement projects on the third segment of the Bay Trail extension — which runs through the Berkeley Marina — as well as the construction of new bike racks and other improvements.
The program would generate no revenue for the city, according to Rivera, with funds instead flowing back into the bike share system.
While day passes cost $9, yearlong memberships for the program will cost $88 — the latter option drawing criticism from some because the cost nearly equates to that of a personal bike.
Other reservations include the vehicle itself: the bicycle’s “frame and components are engineered for heavy urban usage,” making it weigh 42.5 lbs.
“The bikes are shaft-driven, which have no chain and are really heavy — it’s weird,” said Max Chartier, a mechanic at BicyCAL, a campus bicycle co-op. He added that the heavy build of the bike might create an added hazard for inexperienced riders.
In addition to its potential to reduce fossil fuel usage, the bike share program’s ability for quick and easy transportation has many people excited.
“It sounds convenient; it would be cool if my bike had a flat tire or if mine was being repaired,” said Dom Serrano, a UC Berkeley sophomore. “Knowing (the program) would be somewhere I wanted to go would be convenient, so I wouldn’t have to bring my own bike.”