In what could become Los Angeles County’s first ever bike sharing program, the Santa Monica City Council voted 5-1 this week to approve a system that would allow riders to share bikes for a fee. Councilmember Bob Holbrook was the sole dissenting vote.
The system would utilize 375 bikes to be shared in Santa Monica and the City is in a unique position in that it has $2.7 million worth of funding for the project through the California Transportation Commission.
Councilmember Kevin McKeowen - who represents Santa Monica on the Westside City Council of Governments and who was a vocal proponent at the meeting of pushing the bike sharing program forward – was quick to point out that Santa Monica is the only city on the Westside that had secured funds to move forward.
However, the CTC placed a deadline on those funds, requiring that a contract be awarded to a vendor by December 2013, but the council - along with approving the plan for the program - also voted to request for an extension on that deadline from the CTC in order to have set up requests for proposals.
While there was a great deal of discussion among council members about the need to build a regional bike sharing program, most agreed that Santa Monica should not hold back waiting for other cities to be able to move forward.
The council also discussed the need to find not just local sponsors to advertise the bike kiosks around the city and on the bikes themselves to help offset the program’s operating costs, but also staff recommendations to sell advertising space at the kiosks in case sponsorship monies couldn’t cover all the costs.
However, the City has strict rules when it comes to outside advertising and that would also have to be addressed and the council agreed to focus on sponsorships and revisit the issue of advertising at a later date if required.
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