WeHo to Launch Bike Share Program This Spring

West Hollywood plans to launch a bike share program next spring, with 150 bicycles available at 20 stations throughout the city and several outside the city limits.

The program will be operated by CycleHop, which runs bike share programs throughout North America. CycleHop also will launching compatible bike share programs in Santa Monica, in Beverly Hills, at UCLA and in Long Beach next year.

West Hollywood’s bike share program will feature “smart bikes,” which use wireless technology that lets riders use a smartphone app to reserve bikes, pay for membership and track and share ride data with friends on online social networks. The bicycles will feature light-emitting diode (LED) headlights and tail lights and cargo baskets. To help riders tackle steep climbs to Sunset Boulevard, the smart bikes will feature eight gears.

Twenty self-service stations will be constructed throughout West Hollywood, and the city hopes to create additional stations at key destinations outside city limits. For example, it hopes to create a station at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue to give West Hollywood residents access to the Metro Red Line subway and establish a station at the Grove shopping center and Farmer’s Market. The city soon will be launching a “suggest-a-station” website to solicit community input on desired bike share station locations in WeHo.

West Hollywood and other members of the Westside Cities Council of Government have been working with the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), which operates the county’s subway and bus systems, to try to integrate their bicycle system with one proposed by Metro. Metro expects to implement its program in phases, with Phase I launching in downtown Los Angeles by summer 2016 and Phase II launching in Pasadena in 2017. Hollywood is the closest Metro bike share expansion area to West Hollywood.

But the city’s Community Development Department has determined that Metro’s plan to retain sponsorship and ad revenue from the program while requiring participating cities to fund 65 percent of the operation will be a financial burden. In addition, the CycleHop “smart bike” system is more technologically sophisticated.

West Hollywood has allocated $500,000 in its 2015-2016 fiscal year budget to cover the costs of the initial bike share equipment and installation. In a memo to the City Council, the Community Development Department projected annual operating expenses of $344,000. It projected revenue from user fees, sponsorships and advertising of up to $563,000 a year, resulting in more than $200,000 in annual net revenue to the city. The projected fee revenue is based on what Santa Monica now charges for its program, although fees haven’t yet been set for West Hollywood.

Santa Monica’s system offers a variety of prices. An annual bike share pass goes for $119, which allows 30 minutes of riding time a day. For $149 a year, riders can get 60 minutes a day. There also are monthly passes for $20 (30 minutes a day) and $25 (60 minutes a day. Those without passes can rent a bike for $6 for an hour.

“Bringing bike share to West Hollywood means more residents and visitors will have a transportation option that’s also great for a healthy lifestyle,” said West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath. “The more bikers we have, the safer biking will become, which will eventually transform our car-centric culture.”

In recent years, the City of West Hollywood has made investments in bicycle infrastructure such as bike racks, bike lanes and routes across the city. It has added bike sharrows to remind motorists and cyclists that a roadway is a shared space, is moving forward with the installation of bike lanes on Fairfax Avenue and has increased the availability of bike racks for parking. In addition, the city is in the process of updating its Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan, which evaluates and recommends improvements to the city’s existing bicycle network and facilities

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