Ford GoBike makes its way to Berkeley

Deborah Chen/Staff

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Ford GoBike, a new bike sharing system designed for one-way trips, has finally arrived in Berkeley.

Launched last month, the system has been spreading quickly across the Bay Area in convenient locations near transit, shopping, jobs or bike routes, according to a city press release.

The system provides various options: a single one-way 30 minute trip, a day pass that provides unlimited 30 minute rides within 24 hours and an annual bike share membership for unlimited 45 minute trips.

Prices and pay methods vary depending on the user’s income sitting, according to City of Berkeley Transportation Division Manager Farid Javandel. Those who are low-income may qualify for a $5 first year membership. After the first year, a monthly discount from the regular payment will be implemented.

In addition to the low-income program, students may be offered discounted memberships according to Javandel.

“We’re trying to make it affordable to people with low income to encourage people to try it out — (for those) who may have limited transportation options,” Javandel said.

According to City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the idea of implementing a bike system like the Ford GoBike system in Berkeley has been discussed in previous years for the city alone. However, the project would have cost $4 million — half the amount of the current regional plan “Ford GoBike,” which provides service to five cities.

“We worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to create a regional plan because Berkeley was looking at something like this by ourselves and we decided it was going to be more cost effective if we did this as a partnership with other cities,” Worthington said.

Users can rent out these bikes using the app Ford GoBike, the Ford GoBike website or with cash or a credit card at the Downtown Berkeley bike station, located at 2208 Shattuck Ave., according to City Spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

Currently, there are 120 bikes and 10 bike share stations available in Berkeley, according to the press release.

Many of the recently established stations in Berkeley can be primarily found around Downtown Berkeley and around the campus. The station map also shows future station locations.

The station locations were selected through planning workshops and public hearings from December 2015 to September 2016, according to the press release. The input of nearby businesses and residents were also considered, as well as the plan to locate 20 percent of the stations in historically disadvantaged communities in Berkeley.

Issues have been voiced regarding the bike system with the key concern involving the safety of bike routes.

“(The) main issue is safety,” Chakko said. “(But) the bicycle plan helps address (the issue) with (the) network of 20 low-stress bikeways and nine bike boulevards.”

Other major concerns include bike theft, home storage and bicycle maintenance. These issues, however, have been addressed in a press release which states when a user returns a bike to a station, they are not responsible for theft or maintenance and will not need to bring their Ford GoBike home or on a crowded transit line.

Local bike businesses that provide bike rentals, such as Lulu’s Cyclery, did not seem overly concerned by the appearance of these new bikes so far, according to Michael Jenkins, a bicyclist technician for Lulu’s Cyclery.

Jenkins said Ford GoBike is probably cheaper for an hour rental, but small businesses like Lulu’s Cyclery would be cheaper for a day rental.

The bike system is anticipated to be completed in 2018 and have 37 bike share stations and 400 bikes in the city, according to the press release. The Bay Area as a whole in 2018 will have one of the biggest bike share systems in North America.

Contact Robin Hyun at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @robinnhyun.