The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) have all teamed together to help provide an alternative means of transportation in five cities located in the Bay Area. San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose
The BAAQMD supports research & development, while providing support in technologies that provide advanced emission control technologies. The Management District also provides grants for local, state, federal, and nonprofit agencies for projects that reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
John Brazil with the City of San Jose Department of Transportation said, “This is a pilot program being launched in five cities.” Brazil said, “The idea to build a bike share program really started five years ago.” A grant was given to a team working with SCVTA to help plan for a system in Santa Clara County.
Brazil said, “It took a lot of planning to get this far.” Brazil explains the idea behind the 30-minute bike ride is to “targets individuals who only want to ride those bikes within a mile of their designation.”
The Bike Share Program offers each city a day pass that qualifies the user to use an unlimited number of trips 30 minutes or less. Brazil said, "You can take it outside the downtown area, so long as you’re willing to pay additional charges after 30 minutes."
The bike share program is meant to help pedestrians make shorter trips near the Dirdon, and SJSU campus. “The bike share is to get people to ride the extra five-minutes needed to get to their destination,” Brazil said. There are approximately 150 bikes with an estimated 50% of the bikes being used at any one time. "More than 40% of all trips in the U.S. are 3 miles are less. A significant portion of these are ideal candidates for Bike Share," Brazil said.
To use the Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) program, you need to sign up for the 24-hour daily unlimited pass for 30-minutes at $9, or sign up for an annual membership. An annual pass can cost anywhere from $88 to $99. In order to use the program you need to use a debit or credit card to purchase the pass.
Once you remove the bike from the rack it begins to count down the time you have left to use the bike. This can be an added benefit to help manage your time. There are draw backs however to using the system. If you fail to return the bike on time, you are charged additional late fees for the rental. Brazil said, "To avoid additional charges, you can return a bike within 30 minutes and check out another for an additional 30 minutes."
San Jose State University Student Biology major Monica Velasquez & Odalys Gastelum both agreed they were interested in the bike share program. But for most walking in San Jose’s downtown area, they didn't see themselves renting a bike for just 30-minutes.
The bike share is not meant for regular transportation in the City of San Jose. And like most residence in San Jose, they really didn’t see themselves using a bike they can only rent in the downtown area. But just as there were those who were skeptical about riding the bike Stephanie Joseph said, “It’s a better alternative than riding my own bike in the downtown area.”
According to SJSU Transportation Solutions, “You can pick up a bike from any station, run errands, commute, or go for a quick ride, and then return the bike to any station in your service area within 30 minutes.” Finding a location for the bike is not that difficult you just have to find a Bike Share kiosks at 4th and San Fernando (MLK Library), 4th and San Carlos, and 9th and San Salvador.”
One concern for a potential rider was the possibility of having the bike stolen without having a place to secure the bike. According to San Jose Police Officer Albert Morales, “the total number of bicycle thefts reported by our agency for the time period of Jan – Aug 2012 was 683, and Jan – Aug 2013 the total number of thefts reported reached 552.”
Brazil said, "Bike Share bikes are not intended to be stored other than at a Bike Share Station." Stations provided for riders securely lock the bike avoiding any concerns the renter might have about possible theft of the bike." Bike Share stations are within blocks of each other making it easier to return a bike once you have reached your destination.
Without proper management a bike share can become just as expensive as parking fees for your vehicle. Abraham Abohambe working for a local car lot said, “Some people like to use monthly passes.” Abohambe said, “The monthly pass cost a hundred bucks,”
With this in mind, alternative transportation solutions are not entirely met with the Bay Area Bike Share Program. SJSU Transportation Solutions also offers free bike rentals for students. Other forms of transportation programs offered by SJSU include a car sharing program provided by Zipcar.
According to Transportation Solutions at SJSU, “students get a discounted membership without an application fee.” The Zipcar has rental areas on 7th Street by Royce Hall, 4th Street by Washington Square Hall, and 10th Street by Campus Village. SJSU students also have free access SJSU transit buses making it even easier to travel in the downtown area near campus.