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Beverly Hills Interested in L.A.'s Regional Bike Sharing Plan

The Beverly Hills City Council met with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Metro and other officials about the proposal for the Westside.

Heralding the City of Santa Monica's county-leading bike sharing program, Beverly Hills City Council members learned Tuesday that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Metro, Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, Assemblymember Richard Bloom and other transportation officials convened to pitch the idea for a regional program on the Westside.

"It's not specific to just the city [of L.A.]," said Councilmember William W. Brien, citing other major cities like Chicago employing similar programs, when reporting back to his City Council Tuesday night. "They want to approach it in a more regional way."

With Santa Monica receiving a $2 million bike-sharing grant, Brien said the Westside Council of Governments is updating its own request-for-proposal in hopes to work with Garcetti's office, Metro and the region to come up with a program.

"We think this is a very positive step," Brien added. "I believe Westside cities, like Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Culver city will have an RFP out by end of the year."

Assemblymember Bloom issued a statement following Tuesday's stakeholders meeting, saying if all of the cities begin to develop their own bike share programs independently, not only will it be impractical for many commuters, but it could take many years before compatibility issues are resolved.

“The reality is commuters do not have boundaries so neither should a bike share program," Bloom said. "One of the biggest fears is that one of the cities in our region will make a significant investment in a bike share system that will be incompatible with their neighbor. This makes the system worthless for riders who cross multiple cities in their commute. At the same time, cities like Santa Monica are ready to move forward and we can't afford to lose that inertia."

The various bike share vendors and operators use different bikes, kiosks, and locking devices and their contracts with the local agencies could last multiple years, Bloom said. Additionally, there are significant startup costs that would need to be reinvested should a city or the county switch vendors or operators.  Requiring commuters to switch bikes in different service areas would also create kiosk location problems since riders would need to switch bikes. 

At the close of the stakeholders meeting, Bloom said they acknowledged that significant further discussion will need to occur on bike infrastructure, potential vendors, funding options, bicycle kiosk locations, safety education, advertising or sponsorships, and governance. The group also agreed to reconvene in early to mid-December after Metro completes a report with more information on the areas of consideration. 

“I am very optimistic given the shared excitement, energy, and commitment after just one meeting," Blom said. "We have a lot of work to do but we have definitely created the foundation needed to build the successful regional bike share program that our residents and businesses want."

For additional coverage to the idea, including the uprooting of former Mayor Antonio Vaillaigosa's Bike Nation proposal, head over to LAStreetsblog.

What are your thoughts? Would Beverly Hills benefit from a regional bike sharing program?

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