Starting Tuesday, hundreds of new "smart bikes" are being rolled out in Mountain View for anyone to rent out.
The new Mountain View bike services that started May 8 are being spearheaded by two private bicycle-sharing companies, San Mateo-based LimeBike and ofo, headquartered in Beijing. Last October, the City Council granted permission for both companies to distribute up to 400 bikes throughout the city.
For LimeBike, bicycles can be unlocked for $1 for a half hour, with a 15-cent surcharge for each additional minute. LimeBike is distributing electric bicycles along with regular bikes, throughout the city.
Ofo charges $1 per hour, and right now the company appears to offer only regular bikes.
The new program is part of a city pilot to bring back an improved version of the abandoned Bike Share program, which suffered from poor ridership and costly maintenance. That system attracted few customers because riders had to dock their bikes at a limited number of stations scattered throughout the city, and ended in late 2016.
The new services offered by ofo and Limebike don't require docking stations, and the bikes can be left pretty much anywhere. The bikes are equipped with GPS-tracking devices, allowing riders to locate unused bikes.
City officials are urging anyone who rents out the new bicycles to park them so they don't obstruct the sidewalks for pedestrians. This has recently become a major problem in other Bay Area cities with electric scooter rentals. Rental bikes left on the sidewalk must be placed in the "furniture zone," the area closest to the curb where fire hydrants, trees and utility poles are normally placed. Certain areas near Castro Street and San Antonio Road also have designated parking areas which should be identifiable through the smartphone apps.
The city's new bike-share pilot is expected to last for one year.