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GoBike expansion steers off course [Updated]

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Five new stations open in Bayview

Uber And Lyft Both Bidding For Bike Share Company Motivate Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

[Update, 9-21-18: GoBike announced today that it has installed five new stations in Bayview, the company’s first foray into the populous and sprawling southeastern neighborhood.

“The new stations also give Ford GoBike riders a chance to explore Bayview area attractions including the Bayview Opera House and the India Basin Shoreline Park,” GoBike said via a Friday press release.

Note that actually bringing your bike into the opera house is a good way to get kicked out, although a visit to India Basin always is a genuinely good idea.

The new station locales (mostly located near the T-Third Street line) are as follows:

  • Newhall Street at 3rd Street;
  • Lane Street at Revere Avenue, near the YMCA;
  • Lane Street at Van Dyke Street;
  • Williams Avenue at Apollo Avenue, near Foods Co.;
  • Mendell Street at Fairfax Avenue, near Youngblood-Coleman Playground

This time last year, GoBike, the app-enabled bike rental company sponsored by Ford and owned by Lyft, planned a citywide expansion that would see stations stretching all the way from the Outer Richmond to Bayview, and even into sometimes overlooked southernmost San Francisco neighborhoods like Crocker-Amazon.

A map circulated by the company in 2017 revealed that GoBike hoped to reach these neighborhoods by the early months of this year. That didn’t happen.

Although GoBike has seen its fleet and its profile balloon over the past 12 months, most of its ambitions have failed to materialize, and there is presently little to no bike rental service from Lyft in neighborhoods like the Richmond and Bayview.

The San Francisco Examiner recently reported that GoBike is consistently stymied in expansion efforts by recalcitrant neighbors and skeptical SF lawmakers who don’t want new docking stations in their neighborhoods.

For example, the publication notes Supervisor Catherine Stefani—who represents the Marina, Cow Hollow, and Pacific Heights—announced in July that she had halted installation of three new stations in her district.

The supervisor cites “many responses from residents and community organizations who expressed concern over the proposed locations and lack of community outreach” over the new additions.

Perhaps most telling was a comment from Metropolitan Transportation Commission director Randy Rentschler, who said, “You could look at a Ford GoBike map and draw supervisorial districts.”

Comparing the GoBike station map with current district lines, this is more or less true: Most of the GoBike fleet is concentrated almost entirely in District Six, District Eight, and District Nine.

District 10 features several stations in the northern areas around Potrero Hill and Mission Bay, but only a few planned stations in the Bayview. In all, a majority of the city’s square milage has no stations at all, with a dearth in Districts One, Four, Seven, and 11.

Uber And Lyft Both Bidding For Bike Share Company Motivate Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In all fairness, it’s likely that bikes would concentrate in these areas city regardless, as that’s where most of the city’s population, businesses, and transit infrastructure are located.

But the company’s desire to serve other areas is unambiguous, as is the opposition in some of those neighborhoods.

In July of 2017, the group Calle 24 unequivocally opposed GoBikes in the Mission, with founder Erick Arguello declaring, “We don’t want bikeshare on 24th Street in the Latino Cultural District.”

Technically ,Calle 24 lost that crusade—a single station can be found at 25th and Harrison. But thus far it’s the only one within the cultural district boundaries.

The presence of several stations on nearby Valencia Street suggests that the company would like to expand further into the Mission District. But for now it appears the battle lines remain mostly intact.