At a press conference in San Francisco today, Ford Motor Co. president and CEO Mark Fields announced that the company had both acquired a rideshare startup called Chariot and made a significant investment in expanding the region’s bike-share program.
Ford’s sponsorship will see the Bay Area’s supply of shareable bikes expand from 700 to 7,000 by 2018, with 1,350 bikes going to the East Bay, and hundreds of new bike-share stations established to distribute the bikes.
The locations of the bike stations are still being determined, but these will be in and around Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose, not just in San Francisco.
The bike-share program is managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area, and operated by a startup called Motivate, which also operates popular bike-share programs around the country, with their largest market in New York.
Motivate president and CEO Jay Walder said his company saw 10 million bike-share trips taken in New York in 2015, and that bike share would become part of the fabric of cities, increasingly. He did not offer projections for San Francisco bike-share usage.
In terms of technology, the bikes, now branded as the Ford GoBike, are not much to behold. They’re manufactured by Motivate and assembled domestically by Detroit Bikes.
They don’t include racks for cargo, a helmet or systems that would allow them to be parked or picked up anywhere. They’re more the sturdy, traditional bike-share bike with an electronic tracking and locking system.
In addition to ramping up the local, shareable bike supply, Ford will begin to show bike stations and available bikes within its Ford Pass app, said Fields.
Ford’s Pass app aims to be a single place where users can find available transportation or mobility options nearby whenever they need them.
Politicians and advocates — including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and San Jose Mayor and MTC Commissioner Sam Liccardo — showed up to ballyhoo the bike-share expansion and promote the idea that mobility options and transportation should be provided by not just public agencies but large, private sector partners.