By Josh Cohen.
On June 28, San Francisco’s Bay Area Bike Share became Ford GoBike. With the relaunch comes plans for a massive expansion that will eventually total 7,000 bikes in cities throughout the region. Last week, the East Bay got its first phase with 450 bikes at 43 stations in Oakland, Emeryville and Berkeley.
GoBike is a public-private partnership between Motivate — the bike-share company behind Citi Bike, Hubway, Capital Bikeshare, Divvy and many others — and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning agency. Ford is the title sponsor.
There are now at least 119 bike-share systems in the U.S. Though the basic operating principles have remained the same as the concept has spread from city to city over the past decade, new systems have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors. Whether it’s pricing, station layout, or the amount of time users get to ride for their money, newer systems seem to get more things right from the get-go.
GoBike has certainly learned lessons about making bike-share available to a broader range of users than the white men with white-collar jobs who typically ride. (According to a 2015 UC Berkeley report on Bay Area Bike Share members, 70 percent were white, 75 percent male, and 80 percent had an annual salary of $75,000 or more.)
GoBike launched with several equity initiatives including a $5, first-year annual membership for low-income residents (after the first year, low-income memberships are $5 per month); cash payment options for residents without credit cards; and a commitment to placing 35 percent of the stations in “communities of concern.” MTC defines communities of concern as census tracts that meet a certain threshold of minority and low-income residents, limited English proficiency, zero-vehicle households, cost-burdened renters and other factors.