Pismo Beach eyes bike-sharing program and wants public input

clambert@thetribunenews.comApril 15, 2014 

An aerial view of downtown Pismo Beach.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Some new bicycles might be pedaling into Pismo Beach, depending on the outcome of a study exploring the possibility of a bike-share program in the city.

Local officials said a bike-sharing system could help decrease traffic congestion — especially during events and holiday weekends when thousands of people descend on the town — encourage exercise and augment existing public transportation services.

“A lot of people stay in the hotels in and around downtown,” said Ben Fine, Pismo’s public works director. “It would provide them an easy way to get downtown so they don’t have to take their car and look for a parking spot.”

Bike-share programs are gaining in popularity and have been rolled out in large cities across the country, including New York, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Pismo Beach’s program would be the first of its kind in San Luis Obispo County.

The idea was credited to city attorney David Fleishman, who used a bike-share program in Boston in April 2013 and shared the story with his colleagues in Pismo Beach. Fleishman had finished the Boston Marathon and was having lunch with friends when news of the bombing flashed across television screens. Unable to get a taxi, he and a friend grabbed bikes from a kiosk and rode a mile or two to an airport shuttle.

“I’m really excited about the idea of bike sharing in Pismo,” he said. “It’s an ideal city for the concept.”

Most programs usually consist of a group of bikes that can be checked out for a short time from bike parking stations placed at key areas around the community. Users swipe a credit card to rent a bike for a small fee (about $5-$10) and can make as many trips as they like without any additional charge as long as the bike is returned within a half hour. Monthly and annual passes could also be purchased.

Fine said the program isn’t intended to compete with other bike rental businesses, which often rent bikes for an entire day. By contrast, a bike-share program “gets you from here to there and then you drop it back off for someone else to use,” he said.

The city has received $7,500 from the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments to conduct a study. Fine said it might take about eight months to complete.

A bike-share program supports the regional transportation planning agency’s goal to increase the visibility of bicycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly transportation and recreation option, programming director Richard Murphy said in an email.


Pismo Beach officials are seeking public input on a study of a bike-share program, including where to put parking stations. Make suggestions and take a survey at http://www.pismobikeshare.com/.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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