Larkspur is joining a regional electric bike share pilot program set to roll out at SMART stations next year.
In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, the City Council agreed to join six other cities and towns along the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit corridor that will be included in the program, expected to launch in early 2022.
The Marin-Sonoma Bike Share Program is a joint effort by the Transportation Authority of Marin and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. It is funded by a through a $826,000 grant through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
In Marin, the participating cities are Novato, San Rafael and Larkspur. In Sonoma County, the participants are Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Petaluma.
Larkspur’s vote allows Bolt Mobility, a transportation company co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, to operate an electric bike share program in the city for 36 months, with an option to renew annually through 2025, according to a city staff report.
“The program’s goals are basically to support that ‘last mile’ component of transportation,” said Julian Skinner, Larkspur public works director. “People using the SMART corridor, using a train, are obviously not going to stay at the SMART station all day. They have a destination. So this is looking to get them from a SMART station or another transit hub to where their trip is intended for that day.”
Scott McDonald, senior transportation planner for the Transportation Authority of Marin, said the program has 300 electric bikes to start. They will be split evenly between Sonoma and Marin near SMART train stations, he said.
“We’re discussing now whether we can serve all six SMART stations,” McDonald said. “But there’s certainly a lot of demand in Larkspur.”
The locations of the electric bikes in Larkspur are still being decided. An online public survey is being conducted to understand where there is a need for electric bikes along the SMART corridor, said McDonald.
“In the next coming weeks, potentially months or so, we’ll get a better sense of what’s the initial proposal in terms of how many hubs, how many bikes potentially within the city,” he said.
Skinner said the city will have the authority to veto proposed locations of electric bike hubs, but the coordination agreement is limited.
“What the city won’t be able to say is, ‘Well, we want 60 bikes,’ or whatever number,” Skinner said. “But I don’t know that we would be in a position to do that until we see how the program rolls out.”
McDonald said commuters will be able to reserve electric bikes through a phone application linked to a Clipper card. He said bikes taken outside of the jurisdiction, like across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, could be disabled. Pricing has yet to be determined.