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Santa Barbara’s trial bike rental network rolling towards another three year agreement

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The trial run for renting electric bicycles in a Santa Barbara backed plan has proven to be popular.

The Santa Barbara City Council received an update Tuesday and voted to add another three years to the contract.

An upgraded agreement with the operating company BCycle is in the works.

The report showed 250 pedal assist e-bikes in the city and more than 1-million miles of riding in the last two years.

The bikes can be found throughout downtown, the waterfront, in many neighborhoods and out to Elings Park.

Riders can use an App, take a ride and drop them off at a docking station in another location.

The bikes are pedal assist and reach a speed of 17-miles per hour.

Over the last two years, 16 bikes have been stolen and 13 of those were recovered.

Bike Rider Jerome Agustin said, "I'm definitely a fan of it and I use it all the time." He was on a ride up State Street at the time.

There are now  250 pedal assist bikes around the city.   It's a perfect fit for leisure rides or to go to and from work.

David Paris was riding the other direction and stopped to say,  "I work from home and take a little break  and go for a ride down State Street."

Some frequent riders say it helps them especially when they have some inclines that  may be difficult if they are walking or  on a regular bike.

They encourage people to give it a try.

Agustin said, "so try it by the month is what I recommend and then $150 dollars for the full year.. You can't beat it."

The city received an update on the trial program this week, and voted to keep it going another three years.

They say it is ideal for point to point rides.    It reduces traffic   It reduces parking.   It provides access to key destinations and it's affordable.

The city says the ebikes are tracked  so they know where people are using them and how far they are riding them around the area and with that information they can add more docking stations.

The bikes have an annual $150 fee for unlimited 60 minute rides.  There's a monthly $30 fee for unlimited 30 minute rides. The walkup fee is $7.00.  One rider has used a low income pass with an annual fee of $25.

Lauren Zivney said,  "unlimited  half an hour trips on the low income pass . It got me more places than walking.  At least faster  - a little more distance."     

One rider uses the bikes often but at times comes up short on finding a docking station.

Paris said, "and so there have been times like if you going to the marina on a Saturday morning you might not find one there but you can plan ahead or stuff like that."

These rentals may lead to a sale some day from a local store,  but they are also a biking option for those who don't want to own.

"I absolutely don't want to buy a bike. I can use a bike when I need it and don't need to worry about it being stolen or anything like that.  It's great," said Paris.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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