Council Considers Bike Sharing Program
October 24, 2012
Council Considers Bike Sharing Program
Monday’s City Council meeting seemed as green as the paper used for its agenda, with green transit the main focus. Topics ranged from speakers in public comment talking about walking to school to ease traffic, to Council member Mehaul O’ Leary giving a brief report on a group opposed to the building of Phase Two of the Expo Line, to the Council’s consideration of participating in the Westside Cities Council of Government Bike Share Program (WSCCOG).
Bike share programs enable passengers to rent bicycles at one station and drop them off at another location. A number of local cities are currently planning to adopt a bike sharing program, with Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Culver City requesting information. Los Angeles has announced that it is planning a program with a bicycle provider (however to date, no agreement has been developed).
Funding for a bike sharing program can come from private sources (such as advertising on kiosk billboards at bike stations) or from sponsorships (which can be from non-profits as well as businesses). Many cities, including Culver City, have ordinances prohibiting advertising in the public right-of-way (transit shelters).
A problem with bike sharing is coordinating the bike use as travelers move from one geographic jurisdiction to another, as different cities may be using different bicycle providers.
O’Leary brought up this issue during council discussion. Noting that people would have trouble picking up bikes in one city and being obliged to drop them off before entering another city, he said: “If we don’t do it as a region, it may fail. We have to have a system of companies bringing us together.”
Jim Clarke agreed that a regional approach was best and asked Public Works spokesperson Helen Kerstein what was being done to achieve this goal with the providers.
“We sent out letters and met with some of the players,” said Kerstein. “It would be a huge effort for them to integrate….they all try to be the exclusive provider.”
Jeff Cooper, who has been attending WSCCOG meetings, said it was “competitive” between the providers and that over the last year he had seen “the frustration” at the meetings because no one could come together on a regional plan.
Meghan Sahli-Wells brought up Culver City’s billboard ordinance in regard to the possibility of ads. “Does Culver City want to revise its billboard ordinance to allow advertisements? Can the program pay for itself without [resorting to] tasteless ads?”
Mayor Andrew Weissman noted that the advertising ban for signage in Culver City has not been examined for a long time. “It may be time to revisit it.”
Other cities have already updated their advertising ordinances, Cooper observed.
O “Leary warned that WSCCOG’s member cities have been stalling on taking action, it seems, because everyone is waiting to see what the other city is going to do. “I’d love to see Culver City do it first.”
City attorney Carol Schwab explained that with a change to the ordinance, it could be possible for Culver City to allow advertising on kiosks, but the ordinance would not have to “open up” other advertising options.
The City Council agreed to consider participation in the bike sharing program if it contained private sponsorship of the bike stations or the inclusion of off-site advertising as part of the bike stations or on the bikes themselves. The City Attorney was directed to prepare an analysis of these two options - which may include the need to make changes to the City's existing Sign Regulations as contained in the Culver City Municipal Code.
The Council also passed a resolution urging the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A different type of environmental problem was addressed in a presentation to the council by the Culver City Sister Cities Committee.
Mayor Tatsuo Fujiwara, of Kaizuka, Japan, narrated a slide show about the destruction caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He thanked Culver City for its help with fundraising for the recovery effort.
Through a translator, Mayor Fujiwara told moving stories of people who saw their loved ones literally swept away by the waters of the tsunami. When asked by O ‘Leary about how things are in the region now, he replied that “the region is focusing on removing the debris but people are still missing and there is much work to be done.”
Mayor Fujiwara was presented with a citation from the city of Culver City, posed for photos with the Council and the Sister Cities committee members, and bowed to the audience in traditional Japanese fashion to express his gratitude.