(A woman rides a JUMP bike, a newly introduced bike share program, in downtown Santa Cruz. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
SANTA CRUZ — A new form of transportation is making sweeping changes in Santa Cruz.
JUMP Bikes, a pedal assist bicycle program that has sprinkled 250 red bicycles around the city for anyone’s use at $1 for every 15 minutes of riding time, is proving to be a bold success, according to Claire Fliesler, transportation planner for the City of Santa Cruz.
“It’s going amazing so far,” she said. “Our system has provided 37,000 miles of riding distance so far with 11,368 trips just in June. Each bike gets used 5.84 times each day. Compare that to the national average of one or two trips per day. Our average trip distance per ride is 2.9 miles.”
Thus far the city has set up about 30 docks where the bikes are electrically charged.
After users, who must be 18 years or older, sign up with an app on their smart phone and a credit card account, they can simply hop on a bike wherever they find one and dial in their personal info on their phone and they’re off.
Julianne Rhodes of Santa Cruz said she frequently uses the bikes between work and home.
“I’m a total convert,” she said. “I really like the design of the bikes. The basket is just for people like me because I’m always running out the door with my things and I can just toss them in the basket and go. The power assist makes riding very easy. I mean — I live in the Seabright area — and to ride downtown to work is so easy. I don’t arrive at work all sweaty and worn out. Riding them calls for very little effort. I don’t have to deal with congestion of parking.”
The bikes are built with a motor that aids the rider with a power assist, which typically top out at 20 mph.
Fliesler said the private JUMP Bike vendor, Social Bicycles, recently sold their venture to the car ride-share company Uber.
The bicycles are charged at the drop-off stations and the amount of charge is indicated per bike on the smart phone app. Any registered user can open up their app and easily see on a map where any number of usable bicycles are parked.
Fliesler said the program, which had a soft launch in May, is already helping to reduce traffic congestion.
“We are going to continue to monitor the data and watch, but what we are seeing is very positive,” she said. “Once the UCSC school year gets going we hope usage will continue to go up.”
The City of Santa Cruz is starting with a five-year contract with JUMP Bikes.
On the down side, Fliesler said some people have complained about inappropriate use, such as riding too fast in pedestrian areas and parking in unsafe places.
“There’s a learning curve here and we hope people simply learn how to properly park the bikes and ride them safely,” she said.
For information, visit www.cityofsantacruz.com and search for “bike share.”