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Pedal Power: South Coast Bike Share Program Hoping To Give Alternative To Driving

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KCLU News
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What do you do when a distance is too far to walk but too close to drive? A bike share plan on the South Coast is hoping to give people an alternative to driving.

A bicycle is being released from its dock on State Street.

It’s one of nearly 100 already in Santa Barbara, which are part of a new Bike Share Pilot program.

Users can unlock a bike and ride it around town – returning it to a different dock.

It’s designed for those trips which are too far to walk but too close to drive.

Jessie Rosenberg, the General Manager of Santa Barbara B Cycle – which operate the bikes – says they are aimed at riders with short trips in mind.

"Santa Barbara is a huge cycling destination. You have a lot of local cyclists but you also have a lot of tourists who really want to get a sense of Santa Barbara," says Rosenberg.

The bikes are rented via an app, and have varying membership levels depending on your intended usage.

Rosenberg says that the e-bikes are great for "all demographics," because even older riders won't struggle on hills, thanks to the added electric "pedal assist."

The program launched at the end of January and expanded into the city’s coastal zone last month – and will expand the program to 500 docks serving a fleet of around 250 bikes.

Sam Furtner is the mobility co-ordinator from the City of Santa Barbara. He says the pilot program has come from over a decade of discussion.

"We have been looking to introduce a bike share program in Santa Barbara for over a decade, especially during some of the dock-less and rogue launches of scooters.

"In 2018, we had a rogue scooter launch, and at that time we developed a shared mobility ordnance to govern and regulate different types of mobility in the city."

He says the bike share program started to develop then, and they're exploring to see whether it's a good fit for the city.

He says the dock system works well as the bikes aren't cluttering the streets of Santa Barbara, however, they need a comprehensive network of docks in the city.

It recently expanded into the coastal area.

The e-bikes are pedal assist rather than full electric, and can travel up to 17 miles per hour.

Cyclist Sippy Moreno says Santa Barbara is perfectly suited to cycling, and cycling is a great opportunity to avoid traffic on his commute.

"It beats all the traffic," says Moreno. "When it's bumper to bumper, I just go right by them."

At the end of the three year pilot program, it will be evaluated whether the bike share will become a permanent fit for the City.

For more information, visit https://santabarbara.bcycle.com/