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Regional Mobility Partnership to Bring SoBi Smart-Bikes to Peninsula

3 logosSeptember 21, 2016 - The City of Palo Alto and Motivate, the nation’s largest bike share operator, are negotiating terms for an agreement to operate a fleet of 350 SoBi (Social Bicycles) smart-bikes on the Peninsula starting in June 2017. SoBi manufactures state-of-the-art smart bikes that allow customers to reserve, pay for, and locate bikes via an intuitive mobile application. Bikes can be picked up and returned at designated hubs or at any bike rack, making the system extremely versatile.

If approved at the City Council’s Oct. 4 meeting, the proposed terms and a subsequent agreement allow for other cities to join the regional system. This enables neighboring Peninsula communities to partner with Motivate to improve mobility and reduce reliance on automobiles, and to participate in the regional bike share system. Each city or agency would negotiate its own contract with Motivate following the broader terms of the overall agreement.

The Managers’ Mobility Partnership, recently formed by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Stanford University and the cities of Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City to address regional transportation issues, helped bring consensus on moving forward with bike share, and has been an advocate for mobility on the Peninsula.

Expressing his enthusiasm for an integrated approach to bike sharing, Palo Alto City Manager James Keene said, “Solving the first and last mile for transit commuters, providing a viable alternative to driving solo, and putting in place a bike infrastructure to utilize our many miles of bike paths can only effectively be accomplished on a regional basis.”

Last spring, the Palo Alto City Council asked staff to research a smart-bike system for the Peninsula, and the City has worked with neighboring communities to devise the best solution for bike share on the Peninsula while maintaining an integrated system with the rest of the Bay Area. Joint Venture Silicon Valley President & CEO Russell Hancock noted, “This is just the beginning of what the Managers’ Mobility Partnership can accomplish. By working together, we can transform mobility in Silicon Valley.”

In 2013, Palo Alto was part of the initial Bay Area Bike Share pilot program, with five stations and about 37 bikes in the Palo Alto network. That system is expanding across the Bay Area and into the East Bay, and it was recently announced that Ford Motor Company will be the system’s new sponsor. Bay Area Bike Share will be known as Ford GoBike, and will primarily be a point-to-point bike share, similar to other systems in large cities across the nation.

While Palo Alto and other Peninsula pilot cities were not part of the planned expansion, a new agreement with Motivate will allow Palo Alto residents and visitors to use a single membership to ride up to 7,000 bicycles within the Ford GoBike system and 350 SoBi bikes in Palo Alto.

SoBi is also developing an e-bike option that is nearing completion and may be a future option for the system to extend the reach of bike share.

About Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Joint Venture Silicon Valley was established in 1993. A non-profit organization, the group convenes the region’s leaders across every major sector – government, business, academia, labor, and community organizations. The organization provides data and analysis on our region’s challenges, and leads initiatives to address those challenges. Joint Venture is funded by cities and counties, local companies, colleges and universities, labor and workforce institutions and foundations. For more information, visit www.jointventure.org.

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