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Bike-share company plans to start in downtown L.A. this April

December 20, 2012 |  3:00 pm

A cyclist rides in the gree bike lane in the 400 block of Spring Street in Los Angeles in March. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Bike Nation, the Southern California-based company that has pledged $16 million toward Los Angeles' first bike-share network, will announce Thursday that it plans to begin rolling out its program in downtown this spring.

The details are scheduled to be unveiled this afternoon at a news event with Bike Nation executives, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Clippers basketball star and cycling advocate Caron Butler, who will be on hand to help give away bikes and helmets to youth just ahead of Christmas.

“We are excited to put stations on the ground in downtown Los Angeles and begin the process of rolling out our bike share program and providing a safe, low-cost, healthy transportation alternative to Los Angeles residents,” Bike Nation's Chief Operating Officer Derek Fretheim said in a prepared news release.

The company said it plans to start small in April and test several locations in downtown before trying to expand to other parts of the city.

The locations where the company hopes to place rental kiosks are Union Station, the Caltrans building on Main Street, City Hall, the County Hall of Administration, Los Angeles Police Department headquarters and at El Pueblo on Olvera Street.

City and Bike Nation officials said the permits for those kiosks have not yet been issued, but they are working on them. Bike Nation officials said they hope to use the $16 million to eventually install as many as 400 bike-share kiosks with 4,000 rental bikes across the city.

Villaraigosa announced Bike Nation's investment pledge in April during a CicLAvia event as an innovative way to bring a bike-share system to L.A. without the city having to invest any taxpayer money.

That plan has drawn praise from some who say a bike-share program would be years away if the city had to subsidize it. But it also has drawn skepticism from some who worry the city could be missing out on future revenues from sponsorship deals and advertising on the bikes and kiosks.

City officials contend they can't lose because Bike Nation (and any other bike-share company that wants to set up a program in the city) must secure their locations through a permitting process, and that the city could choose to change course after the permits expire.

According to initial plans, cyclists in L.A. will be able to rent bikes for $6 a day, or $1.50 for an hour or $4.50 for 90 minutes. Trips shorter than 30 minutes will be free; one-year passes will run $75.

Butler is serving as a community ambassador for Bike Nation and cheered Thursday's announcement.

"Today's event is just one example of things to come," Butler said in a release.

"Bicycling and youth fitness has been a passion of mine for many years now. I am excited that through this bike-sharing program people will have the opportunity to consider biking as a viable transportation option while also becoming more fit." 

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: A cyclist rides in the green bike lane in the 400 block of Spring Street in Los Angeles in March. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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