DecoBike is looking at a dozen places for stands in North Park, Uptown, downtown, and Golden Hill after getting kicked out of the beach areas by the California Coastal Commission, city engineer Brian Genovese said on October 26th.
“We did just relocate some that were poor performers and some that were in the coastal commission zone and those are being located for intensified core use. We’re trying to get that first mile and last mile.”
First and last mile refer to the missing links from mass transit that leave people close to where they’re going but far enough to make using mass-transit unappealing. The theory is that if people can cover that last mile to their destination or the first mile to reach mass transit, mass-transit use will increase.
“We did ask our transit partners at [Metropolitan Transit District] to weigh in on how they can be a better transit connection and they made suggestions we are looking at,” Genovese said.
DecoBike came into San Diego as the Climate Action Plan was taking shape. A key component to the plan is reducing dependence on greenhouse-gas-producing vehicles — in the plan, mass transit is projected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 110,000 metric tons by 2020 — the second-largest local reduction after electric vehicles becoming more prevalent as more chargers are placed.
DecoBike, based in Florida, is not collecting public money, and according to the conditions of its ten-year contract, is supposed to pay the city a portion of its revenues. It makes money by selling advertising on its kiosks and charging a reasonable amount for the rentals.
The four targeted neighborhoods (North Park, Uptown, downtown, Golden Hill) already have DecoBike kiosks — some of which aren’t doing too well. People were concerned about parking loss in commercial areas and about the rentals landing near existing bike shops and possibly costing them business.
John Burnham, who owns the UPS store on Washington, said he is opposed to one of the new locations. “I vehemently oppose the location of DecoBike station 825 next to my store,” Burnham wrote. “I need to emphasize that it is being placed within the commercial loading zone I paid the city to create.”
The kiosk will be on the sidewalk, not in the street, Genovese retorted. He told Burnham, “‘I don’t want it in front of my business’ isn’t really a criteria [to relocate a station]. We have to look to see if a concern is valid or not.”
Burnham’s store is one of seven sites that the Metro Community Development Corp. objected to, according to Leo Wilson, who serves on both the CDC board and the planning committee.
“What we did not like is your taking out nine parking spaces and the loading zone,” Wilson said. “And you’re putting a station on Sixth and Nutmeg next to the park with advertising when no one else is permitted to advertise there…. The one on Park and Madison is right in the middle of the University Heights business zone.”
Wilson said that some of the Uptown kiosks have very little business.
“The stations in this neighborhood have the lowest use —1.75 rentals a day on average,” he said. “There’s one station that has not had a rider all year…. You don’t add stations in areas where they won’t be used.”
The parking district is providing suggestions for alternative locations, according to Gerrie Trussel, who is the executive director of the Uptown Community Parking District.
“It’s really important that this is done with sensitivity and we think that’s possible,” Trussel said. At least one business owner indicated that the kiosk didn’t hurt business at all, even though they lost two parking spaces to install the kiosk.
Ben Baltic, who owns a wine bar on Fourth Avenue, where a DecoBike kiosk was placed, says the three stations in Bankers Hill have registered just under 6000 dockings
“That’s 6000 people who weren’t taking up parking spaces and who are not cruising around looking for a parking space,” Baltic said. “Of those three [DecoBike stations], only one was placed in front of a business and took two parking spaces and that was in front of my business…. The customer count in the wine bar has been up and the revenue has been up.”