The city of Santa Monica opened their 500-bike Breeze bike-share last month. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
The city of Santa Monica opened their 500-bike Breeze bike-share last month. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike Share — the first public bike-share system in L.A. County — officially launched on November 12 and a month later, it’s getting a lot of use.

The 500-bike, 79-station system, which is sponsored by the Santa Monica-based media company Hulu, officially launched on November 12. There are now 3,150 active members, according to city officials. That’s an increase of more than 1,000 members than were registered when city officials first reported on the status of the system on December 2.

“It has been extremely exciting seeing the residents, visitors and tourists of Santa Monica embrace the accessibility of the bikes and enjoy the benefit of a fun and easy way to get around the city,” said Ron Durgin, SoCal Regional Manager for Cyclehop, the company the city council tapped to run the bike-share system.

“We are encouraged by the early numbers, which show the system is off to a great start, and our expectation is for continued membership growth in anticipation of the Expo Line’s spring arrival,” he said in an official press release earlier this month.

In the month since the system opened city-wide, a dozen bike-share hubs have seen more than 400 uses, according to the most recent data provided by city officials.

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By far the most popular hub among the 79 in Santa Monica is the one in Palisades Park at Colorado and Ocean Avenue, directly adjacent to the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier.

According to officials, since November 12, that hub has seen more than 1,200 uses.

The other hubs getting the most use are located at:

Ocean Ave and Olympic Place, Ocean Ave and Bay Street, Barnard Way and Ocean Park Blvd, 2nd Street and Broadway, San Vicente and Ocean Ave, 14th Street and Wilshire, Broadway and 16th Street, Wilshire and 2nd Street, Montana and 7th Street, Bernard and Ashland, and Main and Kinney.

According to officials, in the month since the system launch, riders have taken Breeze bikes on 14,054 trips for a total of 28,274 miles, reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 26,479 pounds. In the December 2 report those numbers were: 8,760 trips, 17,887 miles, and 17,120 pounds of carbon.

Those interested in signing up for an annual membership still can get the reduced “Founding Member” rate of $99 for the year until the end of December. For more information, visit santamonicabikeshare.com.

As the numbers indicate, things have been going well for L.A. County’s first bike-share system. That was the case even before the launch, however.

When the City Council approved CycleHop’s contract in November 2014, the Council also directed staff to seek out a possible corporate sponsor for a minimum $250,000 annual sponsorship.

Staff was successful and in October, the City Council approved a contract with Hulu for the Santa Monica-based Internet media company to sponsor the system with a $675,000 annual donation for five years.

The sponsorship will help offset costs of running the program during the first year, when the deficit is expected to be larger than normal as membership ramps up. It could also help pay for helmet dispensing kiosks where bike-share users would be able to purchase helmets at a subsidized rate. California law does not require helmets for riders 18 years and older.

Metro has begun moving forward with its own bike-share system, which will use an incompatible “smart-hub” system. Metro is expected to launch a 1,000-bike pilot program in Downtown L.A. next year, but some are concerned that the incompatibility of the systems will create unnecessary problems in the future as Metro expands its program to areas where other systems like Breeze are already operating.