On Tuesday Night, the Santa Monica City Councilapproved a motion by a 5-1 vote (Bob Holbrook the dissenting vote and Pam O’Conner absent), to move forward with soliciting request for proposals (“shopping” as city attorney Moutrie referred to it), for a city-wide bike share system.
The Council also voted to seek an extension to timed grant funding from the California Transportation Commission that requires a vendor contract by December.
An extension might allow for more time to better coordinate plans with regional neighbors, but the city is taking an approach of being ready to jump rather than waiting. Santa Monica is the only regional city with a funding sourced secured to install bikes.
The city has a track record of taking the time to do it right when it comes to bicycle facilities. In the case of the capital funding for the Santa Monica Bike Center for example, the city requested an extension and received an additional 6 months.
Richard Bloom, who represents Santa Monica and neighboring areas in the California State Assembly, and is a former mayor and council member of Santa Monica, is a supporter of advancing bike share and also ensuring a regional approach. At a forum to be convened on October 15th, Bloom is expected to weigh in along with other regional city representatives of the Westside.
The Santa Monica council meeting discussion, featured a lot of support, with council member Holbrook’s skepticism being the exception. But no one flew the bike flag higher than Council Member Kevin McKeown.
His comments included “let’s not delay another day, critiquing the tendency for neighboring cities all waiting and deferring for the other to go first on a new idea, and that sometimes a city needs to lead, and that “we’re capable of being that city in Southern California”. McKeown was also rocking the bike puns, with talk of let’s”get on and pedal” or “backpedaling” when talking about a potential bike share system.
Things are moving forward even though there is a clock ticking on the secured funding and details remain to be ironed out. The momentum is now firmly with Santa Monica to be the regional leader on bike share. The Bike Nation announcements for the City of Los Angeles and Long Beach, remain just that: an announcement, with little appearance of follow through.
Santa Monica has a funding source lined up to bikes in the ground, but depending on what operational model, it may have to consider changes to it’s own ordinances, which very strictly regulate outdoor advertising. Concern on the council about the inability to control what kind of ad content might appear on rotating ad panels seemed to indicate a preference for a sponsorship model, similar to New York City’s Citibikes, to subsidize operating costs.
In the race for bike share implementation, I would not be surprised if Santa Monica pulls ahead with the first successful model. Council member Terry O’Day in his remarks noted the skepticism toward ideas like bike share when it’s something done in other cities far away, but that Santa Monica could be the one to “show proof this can work”.
Let’s make it happen.