Update: An earlier version of this story stated Bike Nation kiosks would be installed in Playa del Rey. The company no longer plans to do so.
Hundreds of shiny new bicycles will soon roll into Westwood, and it's not when the newest class of Bruins move to campus. Bike Nation, a bicycle share company, plans to install public bike rental kiosks in Westwood by the end of the year.
The bikes can be rented out from a solar powered kiosk by the hour or for longer periods of time. Similar programs exist in many European cities as well as Miami, Boston and Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made the announcement last weekend after the city's fourth CicLAvia, a street festival of sorts for runners, walkers, skaters and bikers who took advantage of 10 miles of car-free downtown streets last weekend.
"As we have seen with CicLAvia and ‘Carmaheaven,’ Angelenos are aching for a day without a car,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. Last year, Villaraigosa announced a plan to build 1,680 miles of bike paths all over the city over a 30-year period.
In addition to Westwood, Anaheim-based Bike Nation plans to install 4,000 public bicycles for rent all over downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Venice. Those neighborhoods are prime locations for bike share kiosks, said Derek Fretheim, chief operations officer for Bike Nation.
"We look for areas where there's a high density of business communities and residential," Fretheim said.
Bike Nation is interested in a university-town model for the kiosks, "which is one reason UCLA is part of it," Fretheim said.
Over the next few weeks, Bike Nation plans to secure permits for the bike kiosks. The kiosks may be on public or private property and Bike Nation plans to consult and engage neighborhood and community councils and L.A. city councilmembers in that discussion.
"If we're attracting the kind of ridership we're expecting, some of the landlords might see that as a benefit to their businesses," Fretheim said.
No city dollars will fund the program; Bike Nation announced an initial investment of $16 million in its Los Angeles program. The company expects to grow the L.A. program over the next ten years.
“Bike share programs have proven successful in urban areas around the world and in major cities in the United States,” said Navin Narang, founder Bike Nation. “We are excited to work with the City of Los Angeles to implement this demonstration project and provide healthy, low-cost transit options and connectivity between transit connections, business centers and regional destinations.”