San Francisco Weighs the Future of its Bike Share System

The city is weighing three potential ownership models after the contract with Lyft ends in 2027.

March 6, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


A group of cyclists rides on a green painted bike line on the Embarcadero in Sa Francisco.

AsiaTravel / Shutterstock

A report commissioned by San Francisco District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston outlines three courses of action San Francisco can take when the city's contract with Lyft, who currently owns and operates the Bay Wheels bike share system, expires in 2027. The city could maintain the privately owned and operated model, shift to a hybrid, publicly owned and privately operated system, or buy out the system entirely. As Gloria Rodríguez reports, Preston argues that taking over the system would give the city more regulatory control over pricing, increase transparency and access to data, and allow the city to ensure bike share remains affordable and equitable.

In the article, Preston envisions the bike share system as part of the city's public transit network. "So the city runs buses, and I would love to see it where we also are in complete control of a bike share program and have a robust program and make the kind of infrastructure changes we need to make all over the city to the streets, bike lanes, dedicated spaces for bikes and really encourage a growth in transportation by bike."

According to the article, if San Francisco decides to buy the system, "The city would need to pay about $33.2 million for the 4,500 bikes and nearly 8,800 station docks. In addition, annual operating costs range from $13.3 million to $18.2 million, according to the report."

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