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Electric bike sharing program launches in Encinitas

There is a new way to get around in Encinitas. An electric bike sharing program launched today and KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has the details.

The city of Encinitas launched an electric bike-sharing program on Wednesday.

Visitors will spot the colorful BCycle bikes and docks along Coast Highway from Leucadia to Cardiff by the Sea.

Similar to other bike-sharing programs, the e-bike is unlocked through the “BCycle” cell phone app.

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Tania Thorne / KPBS
A row of electric bikes at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, Jan. 5, 2022.

But Tim Pirkey with the company said this program has a major difference.

“Accountability,“ he said. “It provides for a much nicer experience for both the rider and the community.”

To complete a ride, the cyclist must return the bike to one of the 11 docking stations.

“You’ll never have bikes abandoned in front of businesses, on sidewalks, and intersections or anything like that,” said Pirkey.

Riders must be 18 years of age. But in other cities, kids have still found ways to ride.

Pirkey said BCycle has set some safety limitations.

“We have them limited to 15 miles per hour so that there’s not going to be excessive speeding through town,” he said. “And just encouraging smart, safe, cycling.“

A BCycle team will provide support to the bike program and will respond to some emergencies and repairs.

BCycle comes from a partnership with Trek Bicycles and Electra Bikes, headquartered in Encinitas.

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear hopes the BCycle trial will expand to other cities.

“My hope is that we are able to have a lot more than 65 bicycles, that we can double that and we’ll have it not just at our train station, but all along the El Camino Real corridor. And people will be able to have monthly passes where they can get on their bicycle and ride it to work… and that this will be a part of their commute,” she said.

The pilot program lasts one year with three annual extension options afterward.

Crystal Najera, the city of Encinitas sustainability manager, said the e-bike program is helping Encinitas meet its climate action plan goals.

“Every bike that is being ridden is one less car on the road, one less vehicle emitting carbon into our atmosphere and causing global climate change,” she said.

Najera said she hopes the program will launch in other nearby cities and has already been in talks with Oceanside, Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Mar.

Single rides cost $7 for 30 minutes, monthly passes cost $30 and annual passes cost $150.