Within a couple of months, Del Mar residents and visitors will be able to borrow a bike and drop it off at about a dozen locations in town as a result of City Council action Monday, May 6.
The council voted 5-0 to approve a licensing agreement with Gotcha Ride LLC. The agreement enables the city to participate in a yearlong pilot bike-sharing program, along with Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Camp Pendleton. Encinitas is the lead agency in the program.
Based in Charleston, S.C., Gotcha operates ride-share systems, including bikes and scooters, in nearly 80 locales throughout the United States.
In the North County project, Gotcha will rent bikes powered by pedaling, but assisted with electric motors to enable riders to overcome steep slopes.
Customers will obtain the bikes at hubs with racks set up around the cities and Marine base by using the company’s online app and a credit card to pay for the rides.
Gotcha also will enable cash-paying customers to obtain cards giving them access to the vehicles.
The bikes’ locations are tracked by global positioning satellite and those who fail to return bikes to Gotcha’s racks will be charged extra.
Del Mar and Gotcha have agreed to start with 75 bicycles and 11 hubs within the city, but the numbers and rack locations could change based on the preferences of city officials and customers.
Like other agencies instituting ride-share programs, Del Mar officials see the strategy as a way of meeting goals to reduce greenhouse gases and reliance on gas-powered vehicles.
Project Manager Clem Brown said he anticipates the program will get started within Del Mar in July following the Del Mar Fair.
Mayor Dave Druker voted to approve the agreement, but with reservations.
“I am skeptical that this will take off here, but it’s best to have it rather than not,” he said.
Residents will not be happy to find bikes abandoned around the city by unscrupulous customers, he said.
“If there are bikes strewn around here, there will be people with pitch forks here demanding we get rid of it,” he said
One resident wrote a letter to the city expressing concerns about safety resulting from increased bicycle presence and the proposed hub sites, but did not appear at the council’s meeting to speak.
Resident Bill Michalsky said the city needs to carefully examine the program.
“I’m okay with the concept,, but I’m very concerned with where the hubs will be located,” he said after the council’s decision.
Executive Director Jen Grove of the Del Mar Village Association spoke in favor of the program, saying the program should help boost commerce.