Bike share in Los Angeles has been a long, long time coming and on Thursday the region’s next steps for bike share were unveiled. Mayor Eric Garcetti and a regional board, including one member of Santa Monica’s City Council, released a motion (posted above) to the LA Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA/Metro) that outlines a timeline to present findings and release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a regional bike share program.
The news comes on the heels of the September 24 Santa Monica City Council meeting in which council members strongly urged staff and the city to move forward with their bike share RFP to solidify Santa Monica as the regional leader in bike share. As the only city with funding earmarked for bike share (a 2.2 million dollar grant), Santa Monica was poised to execute a program that would eventually extend into other LA County cities. The RFP would have required that an equipment vendor be capable of providing equipment for a much larger county-wide system.
Instead, Santa Monica has relinquished its opportunity to lead and has moved toward appeasing its municipal neighbors by joining the regional effort. The city’s grant is set to expire at the end of 2013 and the city is pursuing an extension (between twelve and sixteen months) on that deadline to allow for a more regional approach, which they are confident that they will receive. Santa Monica is not expected to release its RFP this month, contradictory to much of what was presented by city council members in the Santa Monica City Council meeting. There’s also concern that should Santa Monica fail to receive the extension that their bike share contract wouldn’t be awarded before the January 1, 2014 deadline.
Mayor Garcetti and the regional board’s release stated that the Metro board will “convene a bicycle share industry review in November 2013″ and, upon reporting back, will issue a RFP in January 2014. The regional approach will likely involve Santa Monica, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Metro, the LA County Board of Supervisors, and others.
While this appears to be a step in the right direction for the region, it will stall much of the work that Santa Monica has done. Instead of taking a step forward for the region, Santa Monica is waiting for the rest to catch up–and it is unclear how long that could ultimately take.
And other questions remain: is the bike share permit issued by Los Angeles in April now void? And didn’t Metro already conduct an industry review back in 2012?
And then there is the question of funding. With Santa Monica being the only city in the region with bike share funding ready to be administered, how does the rest of the region plan to fund capital costs? LA’s outdoor advertising issues pose a hurdle for an eventual operator and navigating sponsorship opportunities will undoubtedly be difficult. Very few cities have been able to successfully attract enough sponsorship to fund a substantial amount of equipment and the ones that have–London and New York–are significantly more dense than the Los Angeles region.
So, should Santa Monica join the LA County ranks and delay its own program for the sake of the region? Answer our poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments section.