The San Luis Obispo City Council approved a pilot program to bring a bike-sharing program to the city, but stopped short of approving dockless scooters.

In an October 1 special meeting, the council settled on a “hybrid” program intended to keep bikes parked in a special dock or a standard bike rack. This is a departure from programs in many cities where users can park bicycles without a formal dock. 

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The program will be for both the city and the Cal Poly campus, but it’s not expected to start until at least late 2020.

While a bike-share program was considered in 2013, nothing seemed like a “good fit” for the city and the council decided to wait and see how other cities approached the use of programs, San Luis Obispo Active Transportation Manager Adam Fukushima said. 

City employees said the goal is to create a program where bikes do not end up blocking sidewalks and creating safety hazards.

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In September 2018, Bird attempted a “rogue scooter launch” in SLO, grabbing the attention of the city. However, Mayor Heidi Harmon said scooter companies like Bird will not be coming to SLO any time soon.

“They’re dangerous, they create a lot of challenges, they’re not really allowed to go on the streets, so then they’re on the sidewalk. We don’t really want them on the sidewalk either,” Harmon said. “For folks living with disabilities, it creates sort of a cascade of challenges that we would like to see if we can avoid.”

With the pilot program, Fukushima and Harmon said the city’s top priority is safety for cyclists and pedestrians. 

“At the end of the day, it’s good for people to have more access to a bike, but from the surveys we’ve heard, the top barriers to bicycling… [aren’t] really access to a bike,” Fukushima said. “It’s more the feeling of safety that people have, wanting comfortable bike infrastructure.”

The City of San Luis Obispo staff will hold an event on October 17 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the University Union to get feedback from students on bicycle programs. 

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