Ford GoBike Program registers 500 low-income members

Deborah Chen/Staff

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Ford GoBike, the ambitious new Bay Area bike-share program, registered 500 members in its low-income program Bike Share for All on Monday, despite some criticisms that the program is not accessible to historically underserved communities.

Bike Share for All is a program that gives all low-income riders a chance to qualify for a $5 first-year membership, paying $5 per month after that. This program is also available to campus students and is significantly cheaper than the standard membership, which is $149 a year.

Paolo Cosulich-Swartz, outreach and communications manager at Motivate, which owns Ford GoBike, said there are over 7,000 total annual members of the ride-share program.

In an email, city transportation manager Farid Javandel described the reactions to the Ford GoBike program as mostly positive, aside from the initial backlash that he said is typical of new bike-sharing systems in the first few weeks.

“We have received requests for more stations in North Berkeley, and also some concerns about the repurposing of on-street parking spaces into bike-share stations,” Javandel added in the email.

Some in the bicycle industry had praise for the Ford GoBike program. Sam Salzeider, general manager of Mike’s Bikes of Berkeley, said in an email that the program can help people to “fall in love” with cycling and creates new customers.

Critics, however, have said that the bike stations could fuel gentrification, with a coalition called United to Save the Mission asking for an economic impact study of the program. Some have said that the program is not accessible to underserved low-income areas and that the new technology could harm culturally historical districts.

Campus student Ian Huynh had more positive things to say. He rides the bikes about three times a day around campus and said they are convenient and time-saving.

“It’s nice not having to worry about your bike getting stolen,” Huynh said.

Contact Emily Mantaro at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @EmilyMantaroDC.