Bike share arrived in Sacramento Thursday with several dozen ready to rent in downtown Sacramento and along the West Sacramento waterfront.
The bikes, operated by a company called Social Bicyles, rent for $4 per hour, but can be rented in increments as small as a minute. Users tap into a smartphone app, which tells them where the nearest bikes are parked. Riders can then unlock the bikes by tapping a personal code into the pad behind the bike seat.
Most bikes will be parked at 14 designated bike stands in the street at popular central city locations, such as next to The Barn and Raley Field in West Sacramento, in Capitol Park and in front of Zocalo restaurant and across the street from Der Biergarten in midtown.
City officials said Thursday’s launch represents a step toward enabling residents, downtown workers and others to get around the central city and river areas without cars. Fifty bikes were available for use at the 14 stations as of Thursday at noon.
The temporary website to download the app is at www.bikethetower.com.
“It’s a great new alternative way to get around for work, for errands, for lunch, for other short trips, taking advantage of our great weather and flat landscapes to just grab a bike and go,” said West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. “It’ll allow you to get all around the downtown core area of both cities and ultimately to Davis as well.”
For now, organizers are soft-pedaling the program until they can land a sponsor to pay for a bigger system. Cabaldon said the two cities and regional transportation officials hope to sign a major local business to kick in several million dollars over the next few years to allow the program to add hundreds more bikes and add bike stations outside the central core.
Social Bicycles operates similar bike share programs in 35 cities in the United States and overseas. Regional transportation funds are being used to purchase and install the Sacramento bike racks, which can also be used by riders with their own bikes.
The goal is to put 800 bikes and 100 electric motor-assisted bikes on the streets by November. Renters can pick them up and drop them off at designated racks, whose locations are identified on the app’s map. But they also can lock and leave them at any bike rack of their choosing, paying a small add-on fee if it is not one of the designated racks.
Each bike’s GPS system will allow other renters to see where all bikes are parked. A person who picks a bike up at an outside rack and returns it to a designated station will get a discount.
“This is going to be the easiest, cheapest way to get around,” City Councilman Steve Hansen said.