Los Angeles County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is planning to debut the first pilot phase of a new bike share system for the region in Downtown Los Angeles on July 7th. The initial roll out will feature 1,000 BCycle 2.0 bicycles accessible from 65 stations distributed across the downtown area. Metro plans to expand the fledgling system in the coming years, with up to an additional 7,000 bicycles planned for the entire system. Under this plan, Pasadena to the northeast will get Metro’s bike sharing system next year, followed by Koreatown and University Park to the west by 2018, Hollywood to northwest by 2019, and other areas including North Hollywood, East Los Angeles, and Venice by 2020.
Metro granted an $11-million contract to a partnership between bike share system provider Bicycle Transit Systems and BCycle, itself partnership between Trek Bicycle Corporation, health insurance provider Humana, and advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The system utilizes BCycle’s 2.0 model, an update of the model originally utilized in recently-developed bike share systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Fargo, North Dakota, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado.
The 2.0 model features a lightweight aluminum frame and includes a front basket as well as a protected chain and rust-proof components. The bicycle is designed to be heavily used in public settings and permanently live outdoors. The 1.0 model was made of steel and clocked in at 55 pounds; the 2.0’s aluminum frame is ten pounds lighter by comparison, lowering the cruiser’s weight to a still-hefty 45 pounds. Ryan Callahan, BCycle’s Senior Industrial Designer responsible for the design of the bikes and stations, told AN over telephone, “We referenced traditional street furniture by making (the bike stations) large and tall and incorporating solar energy masts, as well as wayfinding graphics and a map and ad panel. We wanted it to look natural, like it belongs on the street.”
With its bike share system, Metro aims to make two-wheeled transportation a more viable option for closing the gap between the “first and last mile” between Metro commuters’ destinations. In a press release from Metro, Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair said, “Marrying bicycle and transit trips will go a long way in supporting healthy lifestyles, easing traffic on downtown streets and, perhaps most importantly, getting Angelenos where they need to go in an efficient and affordable manner.”
In a heavily automobile-dependent region, there were 88 pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in 2013, so safety will be essential if the system is to be successful as a viable means of transportation for city residents. This effort comes on the heels of a steady expansion of the city’s bicycle infrastructure, including Downtown L.A. councilperson Jose Huizar’s DTLA Forward initiative, which plans to add curbside bicycle lanes to several major downtown thoroughfares, the Vision Downtown pedestrianization plan, and the completion of many neighborhood-specific Civic LAvia open streets festivals.