Fullerton to test bike share program

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Vanessa Martinez / Daily Titan

Bike Nation, in conjunction with the Orange County Transport Authority and the city of Fullerton, will launch a bike sharing pilot program this summer that will swell transportation options and facilitate the commute between downtown Fullerton and Cal State Fullerton.

OCTA awarded a $1.48 million contract to Bike Nation, which will finance the capital and startup costs as well as two years of operation. Funding for the pilot program is a combination of a federal grant and a local Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee grant.

The contract will install 165 bikes and 15 stations at various locations within a 2-square-mile area in Fullerton. Bike Nation indicated they will co-invest in the program by adding up to 35 stations and 350 bikes, resulting in a total of 50 stations and 515 bikes.

OCTA began the planning process for a bike share program in July 2011. The procurement process, which is the process government agencies use to hire a company, was underway in July 2012.

Laura Scheper, an OCTA media relations specialist, said OCTA is working with Bike Nation and the city of Fullerton to establish criteria for the program and secure permits within the city.

The bike sharing system will be available to the community when city permits are processed, which should occur within six to nine months.

“We conducted a county-wide location review and concluded that a pilot program in Fullerton would provide the best environment to launch the Bike Share program,” said Scheper.

Scheper added that one of the benefits of bike share programs is they take cars off the road, easing traffic and improving the environment, as well as enhance the first and last mile connections to and from Metrolink stations.

Bike Nation is a membership-based service catered to short commutes where users rent, ride and return bikes from stations located in key areas.

The bikes are chainless and feature active GPS technology and airless tires, reducing the need for on-road service.

Bike users can opt for a daily, weekly, monthly or annual pass with the first 30 minutes free for pass holders.

Any additional time is charged based on how long commuters keep the bike. Membership pricing has not been determined by OCTA, but will mostly be in line with industry standards.

Casual Bike Nation members can swipe credit or debit cards at any kiosk at a station, and pick their desired bike. Annual Bike Nation members simply have to tap a Bike Nation key at a dock with an available bicycle.

Scheper anticipates the placement of bike sharing stations at CSUF, Hope International, Fullerton College, Fullerton Transportation Center and Downtown Fullerton.

Bike Nation has set up a section within their website where the community can pinpoint on a map where they would like a station to be located and see other suggestions.

“We are currently asking the community to provide suggestions for specific station locations,” Scheper said.

Based in Southern California, Bike Nation is trying to jump-start a regional bike share program.

Derek Fretheim, Bike Nation’s chief operation officer, said it was only natural for the company to construct other programs in the region.

A system has been instituted in Anaheim and programs in Long Beach, downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Westwood and Venice Beach are in the works.

Unlike the publicly funded Fullerton program, extensive privately-funded bike share programs were announced in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Bike Nation memberships are transferable to any city part of their bike share systems.

Usage of the program is projected to affect multiple types of people in the Fullerton community, including students and residents of the downtown area.

Jane Rands, a member of Fullerton City Council’s Bicycle Users Subcommittee, said the main purpose of the bike sharing program is to get people from the train station to Cal State Fullerton.

Rands said the goal of bike sharing in terms of the Fullerton Transportation Center Specific Plan for high density housing is to have people get out of their cars or not own a car and be able to commute around the area.

“The idea is that you get on at the transportation center and you want to stop at the grocery store? Check your bike in, you go to the grocery store, check a bike out and continue on your way to school,” said Rands. “So it’s meant to be very flexible.”

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