SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego is trying to get more people to ride bikes by opening up the city to more bike sharing companies.
San Diego already has an exclusive deal with DecoBike, which has placed docking stations around the city where people go to rent and return bikes. But now the city is allowing other private companies to operate dockless bike and scooter sharing systems, saying it does not conflict with the DecoBike partnership.
City Councilman David Alvarez announced the move Tuesday at a news conference.
“What we’re trying to get to by 2020 is 6 percent of individuals using bikes as a mode of transportation. The more you make bikes available, the more people will use them,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez admits the city’s docked bike system hasn’t exactly taken off. Bicycle advocates believe the dockless bikes – including LimeBike and Ofo – will be more popular.
“If I find a bike in my neighborhood and I want to commute to work, I can go door-to-door. I don’t have to look for a station that may be full when I get there,” said Andy Hanshaw with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.
While many people say the dockless systems are cheaper and easier to use, there are many complaints in some communities about where riders leave the bikes.
“I see the bikes. They’re everywhere. They’re on sidewalks, at stop signs — it looks like litter,” said downtown resident Joanne Esposito.
LimeBike, which will have about 2,000 bikes and scooters around the city, says it will work to take care of such problems.
“We go around to re-position bikes in areas they shouldn’t be. We have a customer support number on each bike. If you have an issue, reach out to us — we’re very responsive,” said LimeBike General Manager Zack Bartlett.
The city also hopes bike sharing will reduce emissions to help the city meet goals in its climate action plan.