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Bike Share booted, but what will replace it?

Original post made on Oct 27, 2016

Mountain View's Bike Share program, with its seven stations and dozens of rental bicycles, will be taken out in the coming weeks, but it's not clear what, if any, new bike program will be replacing it.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 27, 2016, 11:49 AM

Comments (47)

Posted by Annoyed with delays
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:44 pm

It doesn't sound like an impasse at all. It was voted down. There aren't enough votes to pay for a bike share system. There is no need to revisit this. It was a dumb idea in the first place and $20 a ride for taxpayers is ridiculous we could pay for a taxi to get them there. If you want a bike share program ask the bike shops to offer rentals. Done!

Posted by They gave it a shot
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Does the program include grant money? That may explain the resistance to admit defeat of the program. I'm an avid cyclist myself but if the numbers don't justify it, then the numbers don't justify it. It doesn't mean something HAS to take it's place.

Posted by Bicyclist
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:51 pm

This was a bad idea from the beginning. Most residents already own a bike and google already provides free bikes. If there really was a market for this , there are plenty of bike rental owners that would love to jump in and provide the service.

The reason this program was started was because it was free and supported by government grant money ( i.e. Our taxes). Once the grant money dried up and the service was outsourced , the program had to cover its costs. Typical of many govt. programs , the excessive cost of $3000 per bike is typical.

Let the private sector provide this service and if it succeeds it will survive. Otherwise let's save taxpayers huge amounts of money for better uses.

Posted by Jim in Waverly park
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:24 pm

I'm a capitalist and I disagree that private business will always fill the gap.

I've lived in cities with successful bike share schemes and they are GREAT. Personal bikes and centralized bike rentals are not a replacement.

I was excited to move back to Mountain View and see bikeshare here, but quickly realized the coverage and placement of the bikes would doom it to failure. There were no bikes in any neighborhood. no way to get from waverly park to downtown, to the train, or to Loyola corners, or anywhere. what were you supposed to do? ride around downtown?

I believe a bike program is viable but they need 5x the bikes, scattered around the city to enable trips people would take, to make it useful.

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Who would have thought this wonderful service would have failed?

Oh wait.. I did.. and I said it back in 2013 when it was first proposed.

We Californians love our cars. If you live in Mountain View you drive if you can afford it. Plain and simple.

Posted by Cuesta
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:36 pm

I tried to use this program and it was ridiculously expensive. My bike was in the shop and the rental is by the hour... no reduced daily rate. Also people steal bikes from google and leave them all over the city. Makes me so mad that people steal bikes from a generous company and ditch them. Maybe google can require a deposit to use the bikes so this doesn't happen? It would be even better if they could
Open the program up to all MV residents

Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:39 pm

How often does the City Manager pay to rent one of the bikes?
Enough taxpayer subsidies. Let the riders pay the real cost or get rid of the bikes.

Posted by Juan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:43 pm

When something doesn't cost you anything it's a great idea, as soon as you find it will need to be paid by either you, your bank, your paycheck or your source of income. It's an expensive idea and should be abolished.


What a waste of our money

Posted by Old MV Cyclist
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:58 pm

@Jim in Waverly Park - You nailed it. The system was set up to fail not because of the cost, but because it's supposed to be a system to get either to/from public transportation or to/from home and shopping. With the bike stations only around downtown and Caltrain (MV and San Antonio), and no stations in neighborhoods, there was no way for commuters to use it. If you could walk 5 minutes from your house, get a bike and ride to Caltrain/VTA for a commute, it would make sense. Or you could do the same, ride to San Antonio Center, drop it, shop, then ride back, it would also make sense.

Compare this to San Francisco, where much of the use is from neighborhood to work or Caltrain/Ferry/BART to work, it makes sense. I commute to SF and have been a subscriber for years for this reason.

Also, while there are subsidies, it does cost $88 per year to subscribe. If enough riders subscribe, the economics do work.

Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Martin Omander is a registered user.

I bike all the time myself, as long as I run errands within Mountain View. It's unfortunate that the bike share program didn't work, but I guess most people who bike have their own bikes, like I do. Bike sharing is successful in New York and London, but perhaps it needs that higher density of people to work well.

Anyway, I'm glad we tried it and I'm glad we are scrapping it now that it didn't work well for our town. Often in life you have to try things out to know. Guesswork only takes you so far.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Cost for short term use is too high. If we are going to subsidize this, the first hour or two should be free.
Fussy system
Bikes are heavy, clumsy, and not much fun to ride

From where any of the stations are located, it is about as easy to walk the area. Need neighborhood-to-hub and crosstown network. Jim In Waverly Park explains this very well.

If you observe the heavy bike traffic on Stevens Creek trail during commute hours, you will see every type of bike, including a few of the distinctive Google bikes venturing a ways from home, but never one of the Bike Share bikes.

Bike shops usually do rent bikes, but on a different model within usual business hours. Fine if you need a nice bike for a day or two or a week or a month.

Posted by Weighing in
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:47 pm

The Google bikes seem to get a lot of use, as noted from the number left on the streets. Maybe Google could provide more and people could just use them and leave them as needed. A little chaotic, but it seems to be working on a small scale now.

Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Jim in Waverly Park and Old MV Cyclist have already nailed it. It takes critical mass - enough stations around town - for bike share to work.

Just think if the recent $160,000 were spent on $200 bikes - Google bikes are probably more like $100. That would have been 800 bikes. You park them around town at existing bike racks (though there aren't enough downtown). I think they would have lasted longer than 6 months and gotten more use and been entirely free to use. The existing stolen Google bikes already almost work this way.

Another thought - why don't the Google Robocars stop and pickup the bikes they find?

Posted by Never Mind
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2016 at 4:03 pm

What's $160,000 for our dear city council members? That's chump change, right?

The city council loves cutting down redwood trees, and they love throwing money at stupid ideas.

Good job Mike Kasperzak!

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 4:53 pm

GOOD JOB Mike Kasperzak! I agree!
I think Mike O. is also right. This was an APHA TEST. $160,000 is really 'chump change' when you consider the cost of living here, and the BUDGET of the entire city. So, we tried it, the majority of the city council gave it an extension, and the APHA TEST failed. This is the hub of innovation? We rely on failures to show us the way to eventual success.

Thank god (or GOD) for the City council. Keeps the city staff in check.

Posted by bjd
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Lol, I just got my bike key yesterday. Oh well. I mostly ride in SF, but it was convenient in MV.

I agree it's not worth subsidizing right now, an idea ahead of its time here. We need a strong network of bike lanes across the city that connect destinations people care about, and also a higher living density. Once we have good bike lanes into North Bayshore and the new developments at San Antonio, this kind of Bike Share network might make sense. I do hope the system remains unified across the Bay Area, it's an obvious necessity for a successful program.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Bailey Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 5:52 am

These bike share companies are a modern day snake oil scheme and our elderly city council fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Posted by Have Bike, Will Ride
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2016 at 7:21 am

CA loves their cars and their bikes. The numbers of people commuting by bike are ramping up sharply, but most have their own bike. That's where this program was doomed. Cyclists have their own. See Y'all on the road!

Posted by PA rtesident
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2016 at 8:18 am

And Pali Alto is increasing and improving theirs! Why don't the two cities talk to each other and have transportation that crosses the San Antonio Berlin Wall. This is pure stupidity. We are not islands and residents of both cross over every day to live our lives.

Posted by MVMom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 28, 2016 at 8:48 am

Why would people pay to use these bikes when you can go just about anywhere in Mountain View and find an abandoned Google bike? Seems like some assume it is okay for them to just take the Google bikes, use them and leave them wherever they feel like. You can find Google bikes conveniently located almost anywhere in the City of Mountain View. Not only do non-Google employees take the bikes for their own personal use, but they don't bother to return them where they belong. Why would some people pay to use a bike from the Bike Share program when they can use one for free?

Posted by Bill
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 28, 2016 at 10:01 am

One million dollars would buy 2,000 mountain bikes at $500 each. Or 4,000 bikes at $250 each. You could distribute them all over town just like the bikeshare system and let people ride them for free. If they get stolen, it's not a big deal. At least people would have something after spending a million bucks. Spend a million bucks on a rideshare system that only a few people use and then cancel it later? We have no lasting value.

Posted by Bicyclist resident
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 28, 2016 at 10:55 am

Plenty of free bike share programs have been tried and failed miserably. The bikes eventually are stolen or thrown away because they are broken. The bike share program fails , except in SF, because of insufficient demand. Who really needs a ST bike rental for less than two hours? Most residents already own bikes and don't seem willing to spend money renting overpriced bikes. If this was such a good idea, the private market would supply ST rental bikes like they do in most cities that have a lot of tourists and business use.

Posted by Nah, Google Bikes
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2016 at 11:16 am

I only see Google bikes around shoreline. Every once in a great while I see one elsewhere, but it's far from dependable to find one unless you're in the heart of the shoreline business district.

Posted by I_Got_Mine
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Web Link

For an example of a workable system with some reasonable rates. Enough stations and options for a cheap commute system. I posted this before when the current system was started. Cheaper than other vehicles, too. Get Palo Alto and Sunnyvale to sign up and you have even more bike stations...

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 28, 2016 at 11:48 pm

If the goal is to get more ecological transportation used, imagine if MV could spur the VTA by installing bus stop displays in MV that show real time status and route data, that upgrade along with building world class bike paths and ample bike parking would do wonders.

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 29, 2016 at 11:31 am

Bike share programs can and do work in many cities around the world. For every one that does work though there are multiple examples of those that don't such as....ours.

It seems that the MVCC has failed to consult with cities with successful programs in similar municipalities and to emulate their best practices....of course you could say the same thing regarding the MVCC and a great many other programs/policies.

Posted by Mark
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm

The bicycling Nazis from San Francisco's Critical Mass -- known locally in S.F. as "Thugs-On-Bikes" because their 4th Friday of the month "rides" -- are full of angry, over- and under-medicated bicyclists who detest cars and wreak a great deal of havoc during their "ride" ... now they have migrated south to Mountain View and have shoved transportation via bicycle down our throats ... as with cars, skateboards, airplanes, trains and shoes, let people choose their own method of transportation and THEN PAY FOR THEIR CHOICE, in this case, BUY THEIR OWN BICYCLES! DUH!

Posted by Bicyclist Resident
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm

"Bike share programs can and do work in many cities around the world. For every one that does work though there are multiple examples of those that don't such as....ours.

It seems that the MVCC has failed to consult with cities with successful programs in similar municipalities and to emulate their best practices....of course you could say the same thing regarding the MVCC and a great many other programs/policies."

Typical of people that fail to understand market realities. All the consulting In the world cannot change the fact that there is insufficient demand for this program. There is a reason it works in some cities and a reason why it will never work in some cities.

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 29, 2016 at 7:25 pm

@ Bicyclist Resident

Slow down the jerking of your knee there pal. At no point did I say that a bikeshare program absolutely can be made to work here. What I said was that the MVCC failed to consult with similar cities with successful programs.

Quick, name one.

....Nor can I and I'll wager that nobody on the MVCC can either and that was the point.

It MAY be possible to make one work here (maybe not).... scores of other cities have made them work...but I'm really confident that the MVCC didn't exercise necessary due diligence to find best practices from similar cities in order to develop a program that ISNT set up for failure as the"EX" program was.....nor did they do enough market research and comparative analysis to determine if there was a way to set up a successful program here.

Posted by Larry
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm

The cost of maintaining a bike share program will pale in comparison to what it will take to alleviate traffic when all the new and planned high density housing come on line. If the city council is balking at $120k per year, they will go ape over the cost of light rail extensions, busways and dedicated bike roads. Gridlock is fast approaching and every possible option to allow people to move around should be on the table. The bikeshare program was not very well designed, and should be improved, not scuttled.

Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 30, 2016 at 8:44 am

Just got back from Paris. Used their bike share Velib. It works because the bike racks are all over the place.
Just wanted to comment based on the comment about council approving high density apartments for Prometheus and not having the foresite to provide the residents an alternative form of transportation. Enjoy the gridlock.

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 30, 2016 at 11:22 am


We were in Paris last week. I was very impressed with the Velib program and how broadly used it is. That said, Paris is hardly an analogue for Mountain View.

My above question was meant to point out that clearly the MVCC didn't analyze the best practices of successful programs in cities that are analogous to Mountain View.

Posted by Bicyclist resident
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 30, 2016 at 1:20 pm


You clearly implied the that council ignored collecting information of best practices of other cites. This is false. Staff reports always contain information about programs in other cities. i talked with some fomer council members and they said New York has a successful program and they were trying to emulate it. They also mentioned some European cities. In any case your advice is is useless. What constitutes a best practice. Most of the time this is merely reporting what other cities have tried without fully vetting whether the approach was successful. Even if they did try to copy what other cities have done, you still ignore the economic realities. As noted above SF and Paris are not very comparable to Mtn View.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2016 at 3:59 pm

I'm not sure that looking at places like New York, Paris, London, etc. would be a similar program to compare. These cities have thousands of tourists who want to get from one tourist site to another, presumably.

Mountain View, like Palo Alto, does not have tourists wanting to get to the same sites in a circuitous route. Instead we do get visitors arriving at Caltrain stations and similar who want to spread out across the spiders' web of business centers. They are not interested in where the borders of MV and PA exist, they want to get from one place to another which may only be a couple of miles but not within the same city. For this reason we have to look at a bikeshare program as something that could work around the region which is the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley. A piecemeal system makes no sense but unfortunately Bay Area councils see themselves as existing outside a region and can't communicate with neighboring councils.

Posted by BikerMike
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 30, 2016 at 4:05 pm

So they tried to emulate a New York bikeshare Mountain View?

Please, by all means show me the similarities in the geography, existing mass transit, population densities and socioeconomic demographics between New York and Mountain View.

I think True may have a point that has eluded you

Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 30, 2016 at 9:22 pm

@true "Paris is not analogous to Mountain View" is not true!
Commuting is commuting, getting around town is getting around town!
I ran into plenty of commuters using the bike share.
How about Chicago --- which operates with 5837 bicycles at 576 stations.
Unfortunately we live in our little city bubbles and cannot think regionally.
City counsle and staff fall over themselves to accommodate out of town developers
and the high density apartments and do nothing for residents.
No vision just tear down and rubber stamp Prometheus Merlone Greed teal and say it's not "analogous" we can't do it, we're too small we don't have enough money blah blah blah

Posted by Bicyclist Resident
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 31, 2016 at 3:58 am

"I think True may have a point that has eluded you"

What point. He still hasn't addresses the economic reality. If this is such a good idea fr Mtn Virw, how come it now fails when the program is outsourced and must at least break even. Most residents already own bicycles, so what is the point of having a bike rental program? Who is served that wants to pay for this program.? To me it's obvious why these programs generally fail.

Posted by David S Pumpkins
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Good riddance! Dumbest idea ever!

Posted by I_Got_Mine
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 1, 2016 at 5:21 pm

For True:

Denver...and I even gave a link. Sometimes you have to use a 2X4 to get people's attention these days...

Yes, Denver's version of a bike sharing system works.Light Rail even supplies a locker for " that last mile " of a bike riding commuter. The equivalent of the Steven's Creek Trail is duplicated several times in and around Denver. I wonder how many arrests of the Thug Bikers there are by SF cops. There are some active cops on bicycles in Denver; paths are their regular beat ( until snow falls sometimes ). The MVCC should have looked at the Denver system when I posted that link earlier. MV COULD have had a better system; I even showed the MVCC how to do it. I just guess that no member reads the paper these days...

Posted by On your left
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2016 at 5:44 pm

There are too many cyclists here to worry about bike share. People own their bikes. The number of users continues to greatly grow. Let's use any $ slated for bike share for bike infrastructure improvements. Just like anything, you need to plan for the future, and the reality is that cyclist numbers are going up regardless, so we can either build to support it, or complain about it 15 years from now.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:33 am

I'm not against bike share programs, but they do have to be done properly.

First let's ask the question as to who or which demographic group these programs are aimed at? If it is residents then they need to have station in residential neighborhoods or local parks and then where will the riders go? They may be used by commuters who would like to drop them at a Caltrain station. They may be used by school kids going to school. That should show where the stations should be.

Google uses bikes to get its employees who have arrived at work to get from one facility to another. Therefore if it is decided that they are aimed at incoming commuters then once again the stations should be at Caltrain and in business areas with facilities for the lunch time rush to Castro Street.

It is also quite possible that the riders may want to cross into Palo Alto, or Sunnyvale, so the stations should be interchangeable with stations in those places.

The present idea in both Palo Alto and Mountain View have been to put bike stations at places where there is a lot of foot traffic, but never thinking about where the foot traffic has come from.

If this is done properly for residents, commuters and other visitors, it might work. My family would love to be able to use a bike share program if it served us for the simple reason that we have had bike thefts and damage as well as the need for regular maintenance which owning a personal bike can cost a great deal of money. Being able to use a bike to get a train or to school without the worry of whether the bike gets stolen or damaged would be a good incentive.

Please look at how these bikes would be used rather than just putting a pin in a map!

Posted by It has already been replaced
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:27 pm

by individuals who own their own bikes. Seems to be going full swing in that direction too. Self sustaining!

Posted by D Man.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Wow it failed. I laughed as I drove by on my free " borrowed from google " bike at those blue turds... Worst market idea so far. thanks google I go to shoreline and stash the bike with my buddys and drive back hammered and drop it anywhere then security comes and gets it. Google rips us for overpriced housing they can at least pick up my bike tab..

Posted by Nell
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm

I was born and raised Mountain View and now I am back in Mountain View working as a preschool teacher. I commute by train from San Jose, where there are plenty of Ford Go Bike stations and it has been convenient and motivating me to commute more.

If I remember correctly, the Bay Area Bike share station for SYNC was only located on El Camino and Castro and there was one outside the community center at 201 South Rengstorff. I think it would be more conducive to have one at the Cal train stations both Mountain and San Antonio, one at the community center, and maybe one or two more elsewhere.

The new system that took over Bay Area Bike share also has a low income qualification built in for those who receive Cal Fresh. The bikes are lighter and they now have an app where you can look up stations and check out bikes at a station of your choice.

I am sad to see Mountain View get rid of the bike share and I am reading that Google bikes are getting stolen, but we all know citizens borrow the bikes to ride them, although I have seen homeless folks use them too...

We need a cost effective and conveniently accessible to commuter bike share program!

Posted by Not really
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2017 at 9:20 am

"We need a cost effective and conveniently accessible to commuter bike share program!"

I'm not sure this is a high priority need at this point. A nice to have, yes, if a cost effective and conveniently accessible program design exists, but that's yet to be seen. The user base is simply too small for it to be viable. If personal bike ownership in this area declines over time it might become more viable, but right now the target demographic already owns their bikes. Those new to cycling tend to buy an entry level bike. I know there will always be someone who would use share bikes if it fits their needs, but to prioritize a bike share program or classify it as a need would be incorrect in my opinion.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm

I notice that San Francisco is now doing Lime Bikes, a bike share program that costs $1 per ride. You pick it up by finding an available bike near you on your phone, use the phone app to unlock it and pay for it, then leave it at any bike rack and use the phone app to lock it.

The advantage of a system like this would be to see where and how people are using them. At $1 per ride, it would be a good way to get to school without having to be concerned about personal bike theft, I would imagine.

Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Darin is a registered user.

When I first looked at Mountain View's Bike Share program, it seemed useful only for riding from one docking station to another. If I actually used one of the bikes to go somewhere useful to me (the whole point of transportation-oriented cycling), then I wouldn't be able to return the bike to a docking station within the time allowed.

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