The Coast News Group
BCycle to launch pilot bikeshare program in Encinitas next month.
BCycle to launch bikeshare pilot program starting Jan. 5 in Encinitas. Photo courtesy of BCycle
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BCycle e-bikes pilot to launch Jan. 5 in Encinitas

ENCINITAS — The popularity of e-bikes has exploded in California but their steep cost can pose a barrier to entry for those curious about trying the growing trend.

BCycle, a subsidiary of Trek Bicycles (which also owns Electra Bikes headquartered in Encinitas), has announced it is launching a new bikeshare program on Jan. 5 in Encinitas, offering interested residents a chance to ride without a huge financial commitment.

The BCycle pilot program will launch with 11 docking stations along Coast Highway 101 from Leucadia Oaks Park and south to Glen Park in Cardiff.

“We’ve been working on this for a while and we’re excited to have their equipment installed and bikes will be getting set up and getting out in the field in early January,” Crystal Najera, the city’s sustainability manager, told The Coast News.

The program is a fully docked system, meaning e-bikes can only be taken and returned to the docking stations already in place along Coast Highway.

e-bikes by BCycle
BCycle will be operating a bike-share program in Encinitas with a fleet of e-bikes. Photo courtesy of BCycle

Encinitas originally had an agreement with a bikeshare provider that used a hybrid system of geotagging areas for e-bike drop-off and pick-up, but after they were unable to fulfill the city’s needs, Encinitas circled back to BCycle.

“I think BCycle will probably let the dust settle on the launch but I’m sure they’ll start looking at more locations to expand after that,” Najera said. “I think their intention is to roughly double the number of locations that you can travel to and they’re looking at locations both in the public right of way and we can place stations at private property locations.”

Part of the BCycle pilot program will be to evaluate other areas in the city that utilize e-bikes.

“Their systems are pretty flexible,” Najera said. “They could install a system and decide that one is not getting used super heavily and it could be switched to another location

BCycle’s home base will be inside its sister company Electra Bikes on Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas — a  local connection that was one of many reasons the city is pleased to have BCycle operate its bikeshare program.

By 2023, e-bikes are expected to make up a market generating $20 billion in revenue and the sometimes hefty cost of the popular mode of transportation is a major factor in those earnings. But with a new bikeshare option, Encinitas residents will have a new way to use an e-bike that could be much more economical for some.

Rides are purchased through a mobile app for riders 18 years of age or older. Rides cost $7 per 30 minutes but there are also membership options for residents that offer cheaper or unlimited rides.

“There’s an annual membership that gives you free, half-hour-or-less rides anywhere,” Najera said. “So I think that’s a really nice feature for anyone that really thinks they’re going to use it all the time.”

The annual membership costs $150 from BCycle but they also offer a monthly membership for riders for $30 a month. Both memberships give users unlimited free 30 minute rides and members will get charged $3 per 30 minutes past the initial block of time.

There has been some concern from both residents and some on the city council about the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists with the increased popularity of e-bikes. The city hopes increased e-bike education among adult riders will help to curb potential safety issues.

“Our parks and rec department is putting on a bunch of classes and providing education,” Najera said. “We’re continuing to do that and we definitely know it’s a big concern of the community so we’re trying to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone on an e-bike is well informed of what the rules of the road are.”

The e-bike pilot program will last for one year from the launch date and both the city and BCycle will have to agree to continue the program past Jan. 5, 2023.