The Coast News Group
Community Oceanside

Oceanside considers joining regional bike-share program

REGION — Oceanside is considering being part of a five-city bike-share program that allows residents and visitors to rent bikes for short travel and work distances.

Recent meetings to discuss the possibility of commuter bikes and research into optional bike-share programs have been facilitated by SANDAG.

“Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside officials have participated in the discussions along with NCTD and a Marine Corp representative from Camp Pendleton,” Howard LaGrange, Oceanside bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, said.

The options for a bike-share programs are numerous.

Two widely used methods to share bikes are a dock system in which bikes must be left at rental docks, and a dockless system that allows riders to leave the bikes anywhere. The price of bike rentals is typically $5 a half-hour for docked bikes and $1 a half-hour for dockless bikes.

LaGrange said an advantage of the dockless system is it works without placing bike docks in parking spaces, and therefore does not require state Coastal Commission approval or the city expense of replacing the used parking spaces.

A concern of the dockless system is the uncertainty of where bikes will end up. Other cities have found the majority of dockless bike rentals are left at bus stops.

The five-city group has discussed possible vendors and tried out different bike-share systems.

“To date three meetings have been held including site visits to San Diego to view the Deco dock model system and Imperial Beach to use a dockless type bike share,” LaGrange said.

Cities vowed to sign a memorandum of understanding to support a common bike share program that they will jointly use. A common system allows bike riders to travel longer one-way distances across city boundaries.

“This would allow a bike share customer riding a bike from Oceanside to be able to drop off a bike in Carlsbad,” LaGrange said.

Next steps for the group are to prepare an MOU, and send out a request for information to bike-share companies. A team effort is readying needed documents.

“Oceanside has prepared a listing of subjects that would be included in a RFI,” LaGrange said. “Encinitas is taking the lead in summarizing the RFI and preparing the MOU.”

North coast cities are requesting bikes have multiple speed gearing of three to eight speeds, front and rear lights and adjustable seat height as well as rider waivers for helmets.

Other items the cities would like to see included are data sharing of rental information, the ability for the vendor to relocate bikes based on need, incentives for riders to drop off bikes in high-demand areas and employment of local residents and veterans in program support services like bike maintenance and relocation.

What participating cities do not want is a cost to cities, a dock-only bike-share system, the inability to implement geo-fencing, and the unwillingness of a bike-share vendor to share data.

A pilot program will be implemented before cities adopt a permanent bike-share system. Oceanside city staff said Encinitas may start a pilot program by spring 2018. Del Mar may also begin a pilot program soon.

Future ideas that might be considered are to incorporate a dock system into the dockless program with rider incentives to return bikes to docks and to add electric bikes.

Information on the bike-share program was conveyed to residents and business owners at the MainStreet Oceanside meeting Dec. 5.