The powder-blue bicycles available to ride around San Francisco via the year-old Bay Area Bike Share are precious, indeed: once broken, they will be out of service for a while. You see, thanks to some turmoil at the companies that built the bikes, there are no spare parts handy at the moment, SF Weekly reported today.
There are currently 700 bikes scattered around 70 stations throughout the Bay Area. In San Francisco, 350 bikes can be found at racks strategically placed in front of places like the Caltrain station, Twitter's Mid-Market headquarters, the Powell Street cable car turnaround, and the U.S. federal court building on Golden Gate Avenue.
There were supposed to be many more bikes and many more stations -- there was even funding for this! — but for the break in the bicycles' supply chain.
Bike manufacturer Alta Bicycle Share , which provides the unmistakable "hefty cruisers" with the big comfortable seats, is for sale, and the company that builds and maintains the software that oversees the system — you didn't think your bicycle ride wasn't being tracked, did you? — went belly-up in January, the Weekly reported, putting everything in flux.
This is a temporary hiccup, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission assures us. The MTC, our regional transit overlords, are taking over control of the bike share project from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in the spring. By that time, new product providers will be in place with plenty of spare bicycle-share parts.
The program's managers and backers say it's an absolute hit, with 13,000 riders a day paying for the privilege of "being the slowest bike in the bike lane...2nd slowest if you count the pedicabs," according to one Yelp reviewer. Less beloved is the program's pricing structure, which is apparently confusing some people and driving others to distraction (it's $9 per day, but unless you dock the bike every half-hour you are charged $4). That could be why a petition to ask Mayor Ed Lee to expand the bike program to 3,000 bikes has only 704 backers .
Either way, please don't take out any ire on the bikes themselves -- that there is a precious and, for the moment, non-renewable resource.