DecoBike still coming to La Jolla?

Despite opposition from every La Jolla community advisory group meeting to which it was presented, upwards of a dozen DecoBike bike sharing kiosks may still be making their way to 92037. At the July 25 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting, member Cindy Greatrex said the City of San Diego called a meeting to discuss proposed locations where bike stations could be installed by the end of September.

“DecoBike may be coming back onto our radar to re-establish the locations they had requested (in 2014). … The reason this is happening is not because of DecoBike as a company, but because it’s believed our bikeability as a city is still rather poor. The city wants to put DecoBike in all the locations they originally planned,” she explained.

Greatrex added that on July 22, the San Diego Smart Growth & Land Use Committee announced a meeting for July 27. “It seems like this is being pushed through very quickly,” she observed.

The July 27 meeting in City Council chambers downtown was held to review the findings of a San Diego County Grand Jury report titled “San Diego’s Bike-sharing Program Needs Help.”

According to the report, the city’s Bicycle Master Plan of 2013 calls for “a bike-sharing program to offer cyclists the opportunity to rent a bicycle from an unattended docking station, ride it wherever they want within the network, and return it to any station with an open dock.” Bike-sharing also reportedly supports the goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan and the regional transportation and bicycle plans.

Also in 2013, the report details, the City of San Diego entered into a Corporate Partnership Agreement for a bike-sharing program. The partner, DecoBike LLC, provided approximately $8 million in infrastructure investment in return for the ability to sell advertising on the bikes and kiosks. San Diego receives a commission on gross advertising and bike rental revenue. DecoBike receives no public funds.

Citing the requirement that stations “must be where cyclists need them … (including) parks, local attractions, beach communities and transit stops,” it goes on to note that “some beach communities have been uncooperative” in that “DecoBike has been unable to install any kiosks in La Jolla due to community claims that they are an eyesore and would take up too much valuable public sidewalk, park and parking space.”

At the hearing, Greatrex reported via e-mail, “La Jolla residents attended to protest the Grand Jury report on DecoBike and the beach communities. It was quite clear by the attendees’ testimonies from Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, who already have some bike stations, that they are extremely unhappy. … It appears that that City Council may need to support the contract that the City of San Diego signed and that means the communities will get these stations no matter how much we disagree.”

Nevertheless, the report states, “The city’s partnership with DecoBike provides for cooperation in the placement of bike stations. … The implementation (of the new sites) is expected to be completed in August and September 2016.” All but one of the proposed La Jolla stations are slated to have 16 bicycles, the other would have 12.

Parks & Beaches chair Dan Allen said the board first learned about DecoBike in April 2014, when representatives circulated to La Jolla’s advisory groups to request bike-share kiosks across La Jolla, mostly on city streets or sidewalks, as a means of short-term transportation.

“In May we wrote a letter (rejecting the suggested locations and DecoBike as a whole). They didn’t come to us, but they had presentations at other community advisory groups, so we saw their presentation. We resolved that La Jolla Parks & Beaches does not support locating bike kiosks in La Jolla’s parkland or public land, which includes grassy areas adjacent to parking spaces, and the parking spaces (themselves) along Scripps Park in La Jolla,” he said. “I don’t think our policy has changed.”

Following suit (in mid-2014), other community advisory groups, such as La Jolla Village Merchants Association, La Jolla Traffic & Transportation and the La Jolla Shores Association, also expressed their objection to the bike-share stations, citing everything from aesthetic to safety concerns and topographic incompatibility. In September 2014, it was announced that DecoBike would pull its requests for La Jolla locations.

Greatrex later told La Jolla Light some of the noted problems in La Jolla include: bikes unsuited to La Jolla grade (bikes are very heavy, too heavy for the Coast Walk to Prospect Street upgrade), bikes are single-speed only (again, a hill issue), La Jolla’s narrow streets and more.

“It is important because the bike-charging stations are an eyesore and the advertising on the charging stations is against our Planned District Ordinance (or blueprint for development). But in the larger sense there is much more than that. This is about sovereignty,” she said. “The Village of La Jolla finds itself fighting the City of San Diego all the time on the lifeguard stations (which have run over budget and well beyond the project construction timeline), sea lion mitigation, seal mitigation, removal of abandoned periodical fixtures, and pretty much every quality of life issue imaginable. Now we are being told that we must connect shared bikes to transit when we don’t have transit.

“This story is a barn-burner in both the Village and the Shores, it is the last straw. Everyone is united on this one. It is about rights and sovereignty of a Village within a City.”

Greatex reported she and other community leaders are working to schedule a grand jury hearing to slow or stop the installation of DecoBike stations.

Proposed DecoBike kiosk locations:

La Jolla Shores

Kennel Way at El Paseo Grande

Camino del Oro at Frescota

Avenida de la Playa at Paseo del Ocaso

La Jolla

Scripps Park at The Cove

Silverado and Herschel Avenue

808 Prospect Avenue at Fay Street

Kline Street at Fay Street

Prospect Street at La Jolla Rec Center

7540 Fay Avenue at Dental Arts Building

Draper Avenue at Kline Street

La Jolla: Coast

Playa del Norte at La Jolla Boulevard

Bird Rock

La Jolla Boulevard at Bird Rock Avenue

La Jolla Boulevard at Midway Street

Turquoise Street and Mission Boulevard (Albertsons grocery sidewalk)

Turquoise Street at Cass Street

Tourmaline Street at La Jolla Boulevard

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