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MTA introduces bike share program downtown

LOS ANGELES — Transportation and elected officials kick-started the region’s new bike-share program July 7 with almost 300 bicyclists — including Mayor Eric Garcetti — riding out of Grand Park to several bike stations sprinkled throughout downtown Los Angeles.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s first bike-share program — there is already one in Santa Monica, and other cities across the country — will include as many as 1,000 bikes that can be checked out with a transit access pass card for short trips at up to 65 stations around the downtown area.

MTA board members, including Garcetti and board Chair John Fasana, hopped on the black and green bicycles for an inaugural ride to Union Station. They were joined by bicycle enthusiasts and other members of the public who came out to Grand Park to take the bikes out for a test run.

Fasana, who is a Duarte city councilman, said the bike-sharing program is part of a “transportation revolution” happening at the MTA and “natural extension” of the public transportation system.

“We’re commonly known as the car capital,” he said. “We’re making room for bikes today.”

Garcetti said the bike share program will allow people to appreciate the downtown area more.

“Downtown L.A. is a fascinating place to explore on two wheels,” he said. The bike-share program “gives Angelenos and visitors and affordable way to experience some of our city’s most incredible sights.”

Councilman Jose Huizar, who did not attend the launch, but represents the downtown area, said the bike-share program “will not only create a connected bicycle system, it will connect people to one another and the distinct neighborhoods that make downtown Los Angeles one of the most vibrant urban cores in the nation.”

Transportation policy that emphasizes the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists as much as motorists should be “the model” for Los Angeles, he added.

The bike-share program is now open only to monthly and year-round pass holders, and will not be available to walk-up riders until Aug. 1. The bike-share racks are installed in well-visited spots around downtown, including Grand Park, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, the Los Angeles Convention Center, South Park, the Arts District and the Fashion District.

The stations are also clustered around light rail stations and bus stops, including Union Station, and is meant to give people an option for getting to the closest public transit station that is nevertheless still too far to get to conveniently, which is commonly known as the first and last mile problem.

The bike share program is also meant to appeal to tourists and other visitors to Los Angeles, MTA officials said.

The monthly pass is $20, which allows riders free use of the bikes during the first 30 minutes, with every half hour afterwards costing $1.75. If a rider returns the bicycle to a station before the first half hour is up, they can restart the process with another free 30 minutes, which means a person can ride for free several times as long as they keep checking the bicycles in and out.

The year-round pass is $40, with each 30 minutes costing $1.75. The walk-up cost will be $3.50 per half hour.

MTA officials said they are working on bringing bike share stations to such locales as Pasadena, North Hollywood, Burbank, Huntington Park, East Los Angeles, Venice, Marina Del Rey and the San Gabriel Valley.


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