People residing in or visiting Encinitas soon will be able to borrow a pedal- and electric-powered bicycle at dozens of locations around town and drop it off at a rack near their destination.
The City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday, April 17, to approve a licensing agreement with Gotcha Ride LLC to operate a bike-share pilot program in Encinitas.
Gotcha also will operate systems in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Camp Pendleton as part of the North County Coastal Bike Share Pilot Program. Encinitas initiated the program and is the lead agency.
“I am totally supportive and excited about this,” Councilwoman Jody Hubbard said of hiring Gotcha, which is headquartered in Charleston, S.C., and has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta.
Following the example set by other cities around the country, Encinitas officials identified the bike-share concept as a way to comply with its Climate Action Plan. The plan emphasizes reduced reliance on fossil fuels contributing to global warming.
“This is perfectly in line with our goal to help people move around without their cars,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said.
As proposed, Encinitas’ program would start with around 250 bikes and at least 35 hubs with parking racks that are spread throughout the city.
The bikes are powered both by pedaling and by electrical power when needed to climb hills.
Customers can use their cell phones and credit cards to obtain a bike at any of the hubs and then leave it at a hub anywhere within the service area when they are done.
The bikes’ locations are tracked by global positioning satellite and those who leave their bikes at unauthorized locales will be charged extra.
Company employees will regularly sweep the city to monitor their vehicles and locate strays.
Talking to the council by remote teleconference, Gotcha CEO Sean Flood stressed that his company’s system is very flexible, and hubs can be shifted routinely to meet demand.
He said the company places an emphasis on ensuring bikes are not abandoned randomly littering city streets.
“Gotcha believes that for a system like this to work, there has to be cleanliness and order,” Flood said.
Also, he said, the company can create bike pick-up and drop-off sites through GPS that don’t require bike racks if that is what the city finds more desirable.
City and company officials hope to have the bikes in service in time for the summer and hopefully as early as Memorial Day.