Bicyclists riding 50 shiny blue bikes paraded in front of Royce Hall and around the neighboring plazas Tuesday afternoon, turning heads and drawing stares from passing pedestrians.
Bruin Bike Share had officially launched. Cyclists can rent the bikes for $7 an hour, or get 90 minutes of daily riding time by becoming members at bruinbikeshare.com, currently at a rate of $7 per month or $60 per year with a UCLA affiliation. Rates are slightly higher for visitors.
With 130 bikes distributed at 18 hubs — 14 on campus and four more in Westwood Village — UCLA Transportation’s Bruin Bike Share provides students, employees and visitors with an easy new option for making healthy, sustainable on- and off-campus trips. The university’s bike share program uses the same company as West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, and UCLA is coordinating with those cities to create a seamless regional bike-share system by early 2018.
“Bike sharing offers convenient mobility for everyone, whether it’s midday trips to Westwood Village, or a fun and easy way to zip away to class,” said Renée Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation, as she announced the program. “It encourages our campus community to get out of their cars and to be physically active.”
With a growing number of ways that UCLA supports biking — like bike lanes, bike channels, bike recycling, bike repair stations and incentives from the Bruin Commuter Club — UCLA is already designated a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists.
“We’ve been hard at work on improving the campus environment for bicycling, and now it’s time to add a bike share system,” said Dave Karwaski, UCLA Transportation’s senior associate director for planning, policy and traffic systems. “More bikes means a better, more livable campus and Westwood Village. It will be a local program this fall, and it will get even better when we connect to bike share in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica in 2018.”
The brand new eight-speed blue bikes have seats that can be adjusted for height and they come equipped with a built-in lock, front and rear LED lights, bell and front basket. Hubs can be found in key locations on campus, including near UCLA residence halls, UCLA Medical Plaza, the Luskin Conference Center, Powell Library, the Faculty Center and the Court of Sciences. UCLA Transportation funded 13 of the hubs, with two more funded by UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services, one by UCLA Health, and two by the Westwood Business Improvement District.
UCLA is working with CycleHop, which installed the Bruin Bike Share system and will operate and maintain it. CycleHop’s technology partner, Social Bikes Inc., provided the bikes and station equipment. Social Bikes uses GPS and wireless technology to provide real-time information about remaining rental time, distance traveled, and bike and hub availability. UCLA will be the first university in Southern California to employ a smart bike-share system. Students, staff, faculty and campus visitors will be able to rent bikes to ride from one hub to another or ride roundtrip.
Bruin Bike Share helps UCLA reduce its carbon footprint, encourage alternative transportation, and support the Healthy Campus Initiative, noted officials speaking at Tuesday’s launch celebration. There are already 250 people signed up for memberships.
“This is what the Healthy Campus Initiative is all about,” said Wendy Slusser, associate vice provost for the initiative. “By making the healthy choice the easy choice, like this bike share program, UCLA is safer, cleaner and healthier.”
The bikes can be rented after creating an account with Social Bikes and choosing a membership through a smartphone or the website, and soon through payment kiosks at larger bike hubs. At the kiosks, people will be able to either sign-up for membership or rent the bike for hourly or daily use. During the month of October, individuals who sign up will receive a free, limited-edition UCLA helmet and a reduced-fee “founding” annual membership rate.