San Francisco bike-share plan’s wheels spinning 

click to enlarge In talks: Negotiations with the vendor that runs the proposed bike-sharing program for the America’s Cup has delayed the plan’s launch. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • In talks: Negotiations with the vendor that runs the proposed bike-sharing program for the America’s Cup has delayed the plan’s launch.

When the sailing boats unfurl their sails for the start of the America’s Cup events in August, missing from the shoreline will be a bicycle-sharing network that was touted as a key component to the transportation plan for the event.

Since the tenure of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who saw bike-sharing firsthand in Europe, a system in which cyclists can pick up and drop off bikes at select locations has been in development, but never
implemented in San Francisco.

That drought was initially supposed to be over by April for Bike to Work Day, and when that didn’t
happen, planners said the network would be set up in time for the America’s Cup World Series events in August. Bike-sharing was touted as a key piece of the “People’s Plan” — a series of transportation improvements for the America’s Cup.

Because of lingering negotiations with Alta Bicycle Share, the vendor that will run the system, the program will not be up and running by the summer, said Ralph Borrmann of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the regional group overseeing the plan.

In 2010, the district was awarded a $4.2 million grant to install 1,000 bikes in the Bay Area, including 500 in San Francisco. Two years later, it has yet to be implemented.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the stalled progress of the bike-sharing plan has been disheartening.

“It’s just really surprising that a program that is so successful and popular in other cities has taken so long to get implemented in San Francisco,” Shahum said. “Especially considering that we have the money in place.”

Borrmann said the bike-sharing network will definitely be in place in time for the main series of America’s Cup racing events scheduled for the summer of 2013. It is also possible the system will be implemented in time for the second World Series events of the America’s Cup later this fall.

In the interim, the Recreation and Park Department will launch a  separate plan — which will be operational for the America’s Cup — that will link stations run by bike rental companies at spots such as Marina Green, Union Square and Justin Herman Plaza.

Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees bike policies in The City, said that various other cycling enhancements will be in place for the August America’s Cup events.

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Will Reisman

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