How to Use Bay Area Bike Share

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Bike Sharing in the San Francisco Bay Area

How to Use Bay Area Bike Share
Bay Area Bike Share

Do you want to use public transportation more often but hate the long walks between transit and your first or final destination? "Bike sharing" might be the solution.

Bike sharing is a short-term bike rental program that offers an easy, affordable, and eco-friendly way to make quick trips without the hassle of bringing your own bike. Here in Silicon Valley, the  Bay Area Bike Share program lets you rent a bike for 30 minutes or more and use that bike to get from place to place on local trips.

Bike sharing is best for short trips or to use in combination with walking and/or using public transportation. Many bike share stations are near important bus stops and trains stations allowing easier pedestrian access to Caltrain, BART, MUNI, and the VTA. 

The Bay Area Bike Share program launched in 2013 and was modeled on urban bike sharing programs in Europen cities. The system currently has 700 bicycles at 70 different stations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose. Since the system launched, more than 800,000 trips have been taken by Bay Area Bike Share riders. The organization is managed by a company called Motivate, who operates bike share systems around the world, including systems in New York City, Chicago, and Washington DC. In the spring of 2017, the system launched the Ford GoBike program, a major expansion to over 7,000 total bikes across the Bay. This expansion will include the first bike sharing stations in the East Bay (Oakland and Berkeley) and create a reduced-price program to improve bike share access for low-income families.

In October 2016, the system celebrated Women Who Bike month, an effort to encourage women to ride bikes. Through the end of this month, you can sign up to get a free 24-hour pass to try out Bay Area Bike Share. 

How Much Does it Cost

To borrow a bike from Bay Area Bike Share, you first have to purchase a short-term membership. You can either purchase a 24-hour day pass ($9) or a three-day pass ($22). You can buy these passes using a credit or debit card at the machine at any Bay Area Bike Share rental station. Locals who are planning to use the system frequently can buy an annual membership for $88. You need to use the Bay Area Bike Share website to buy an annual pass.

Each membership price covers unlimited use during that time period, for up to 30 minutes for each trip. If you need to use the bike for longer than 30 minutes on any trip, you will be charged an overage fee ($4 for 30-60 minutes and $7 for each additional 30 minute period). If you plan to use a bike for an extended period or will need it for a longer trip, it’s better to rent a bike from a bike store or bike rental shop.

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Bay Area Bike Share Station Map

Bay Area Bike Share System Map
Screenshot / Bay Area Bike Share

How to Find a Station

Stations are currently available in San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto and Mountain View. To find stations near you and your destination, check out their website or download the CycleFinder app (iOS and Android). Both resources show a list of nearby Bay Area Bike Share stations and let you see real-time information on the number of available bikes and docking points.

Not a Station Where You Need One?

As noted above, Bay Area Bike Share program is planning a major expansion and looking for users to suggest new locations. 

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How to Rent a Bike

How to rent a bike from Bay Area Bike Share
Bay Area Bike Share

 How to Unlock and Return the Bike

If you buy a 24-hour or 3-day pass, you’ll receive a ride code from the station kiosk. Enter this code on the keypad next to any available bike. Wait for the green light, and pull the bike out while lifting the seat. For subsequent trips, during the membership period, you’ll need to swipe your credit or debit card again at the kiosk to be issued new code at no additional cost.

If you buy an annual membership, you’ll be mailed a unique key that is used to unlock bicycles from docking stations, allowing you to bypass the printed codes.

After your trip, return the bike to any station in your service area. Push the bike firmly into an available dock, and wait for the green light to confirm your trip has ended.

Other Things to Know

  • Bring a bike helmet with you. Bike helmets are not available for rent at Bay Area Bike Share Kiosks. Under California law, bike helmets are required for riders under the age of 18 and recommended for bike riders of all ages.
  • The bikes do not come with a lock. Because these bikes are intended to be used for short-term bike share kiosk to bike share kiosk rentals, you shouldn’t need to lock the bike up. IF you do plan to stop by a store, etc. during your ride, you’ll want to bring a bike lock with you.
  • Find the best cycling route for your trip. Use Google Maps bike route finder to find roads with bike lanes, the City of San Jose’s Bike Trail Map, and the San Francisco Bike Coalition's local cycling route maps. 
  • Get involved in making the Bay Area a better place to bike. Follow and join the nonprofit Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and San Francisco Bike Coalition to help in their advocacy efforts to build more bike lanes, new bike and do other efforts to make the Bay Area an easier and safer place to bike.  
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