SF May Take On Lyft With A City-Owned Bikeshare Program
Bikeshares in urban areas can be a great thing — but not when they’re run by Lyft or the Ford Motor Company, when they catch on fire mid-ride, or when the company running them sues San Francisco for threatening their monopoly status. But that’s what we have right now with Bay Wheels, which is owned by Lyft and used to be owned by Ford, and they’re the only game in town because Lyft sued San Francisco to prevent the city from opening up any opportunities for competitors to get permits.
They may not be the only game in town much longer. The SF Examiner reports the Supervisor Dean Preston is exploring the option of creating a city-operated bikeshare, asking the Budget and Legislative Analyst to analyze the feasibility of the city doing this.
“We need to meet the rise in demand for green transportation in our city — and part of that is through a municipal bikeshare program to complement public transit and advancing public ownership of vital city services,” Sup. Preston said in a release. “I’ve asked our Budget and Legislative Analyst to report on what it would take for San Francisco to implement a successful municipal bike share program and make it a reality.”
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In addition to their lawsuit to maintain a monopoly, Lyft’s Bay Wheels also introduced a substantial price hike in the weeks right before the pandemic hit. They’ve also faced criticism for avoiding putting as many docking stations in Black and Brown neighborhoods.
“We have always advocated for a successful bike share system because we know that a system that’s affordable and accessible will get more people to bike,” San Francisco Bicycle Coalition advocacy director Janice Li also said in the release. “We know a publicly-owned model is successful in other cities across the United States and it’s time we explore that option here.”
Washington, DC has a municipality owned bikeshare program. Before long, San Francisco may have one too.