More stations and bicycles will be added to Santa Monica's planned bike share program with a new $500,000 grant approved Friday by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Bike sharing—the short-term rental of bicycles for one-way or round-trip trips—is popular in Europe, and has recently gained traction in major cities across the country.
The grant brings funding to more than $2.8 million for Santa Monica's program, set to launch by the end of 2013.
Initially, officials planned to place 250 bikes in up to 25 locations across the city. Now, they're anticipating 35 stations with about 350 bikes. Five of the stations will likely be outside the city of Santa Monica in neighboring Westside cities, according to Global Green USA, a nonprofit headquartered in Santa Monica and that partnered with the city in applying for the grant.
Global Green's Policy and Legislative Affairs Director Mary Luevano called the grant a "victory" for Santa Monica and the Westside.
"By expanding the stations to the Westside, we’re creating a system that will allow cross-city transportation in a sustainable, visionary way," she said in a statement.
In addition to funding from the air quality management district, the bulk of the funding comes from a separate Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority grant. The city is matching the $1.54 million Metro grant with $721,000 to get the program rolling ahead of schedule. It was initially scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.
City planners are working with local businesses and community members to identify the best locations for the bike stations. A Bike Action Plan adopted by the Santa Monica City Council in November 2011 proposes stations at each of the three future Expo Light Rail stops, major bus stops, , , hospitals, and shopping districts, among other locations.
"We expect this program to complement the , allowing anyone to bicycle to and from the Santa Monica stations and provide the essential first and last mile link,” David Martin, Santa Monica's director of Planning and Community Development, said in a statement.
The number of people commuting to work on bicycles has increased about 29 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to Global Green.