With the end of 2017, the City of West Hollywood’s bike share program, WeHo Pedals has completed its first full calendar year in operation, and the City is now set to consider a plan to enter a 5-year regional partnership with Beverly Hills, UCLA and Santa Monica. Also under consideration is a prohibition on private bike sharing operations in the City.
Before entering such a long-term agreement, we should ask ourselves, honestly, how is the program doing?
1741 users completed 16,470 trips in 2017 on a network that has 21 stations and 150 bicycles. That’s an average of 45 trips per day. Considering that the preponderance of “users” are “pay as you go”–almost 90%–it makes sense that two thirds of the bicycles will be untouched on any given day.
By comparison in Santa Monica, the 500 bicycle system has 77,000 active users who have taken 607,935 trips.
So with a little more than 3 times as many bicycles as West Hollywood, Santa Monica has more than 44x more users who have taken 37x more trips than West Hollywood’s bike share system.
Of the users of the system, less than a third of riders on WeHo Pedals are from West Hollywood–more then 10% fewer users than are from the City of Los Angeles.
So from a user perspective, West Hollywood’s bike share system is failing to serve West Hollywood residents and its ridership is anemic when compared to nearby Santa Monica.
But wait, there’s more! Our tax dollars are funding this program and it is not meeting financial targets either!
User fees are 1/8 of City projections, the systemwide sponsorship is delivering 13.8% of projected revenue and station-based advertising is delivering just 43% of expectations, resulting in a loss $386,779 to the City in the last twelve months!
So what is the City Council considering on its agenda this week?
To commit to continuing the bike share system for another 5 years via a commitment to a regional network AND possibly prohibiting private “dockless bike share” programs which would compete against the City’s failing WeHo Pedals system.
Considering that a private operator had offered the City a free bike share system just five years ago, in exchange for encroachment rights, the City should think long and hard about whether it wants to continue going down this path, or cut its losses while it can…