Bay Wheels

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Bay Wheels
Bay Wheels logo.png
LocaleSan Francisco Bay Area
Transit typeBicycle sharing system
Number of stations262+[1]
Began operationAugust 29, 2013[2] (Bay Area Bike Share)

June 28, 2017 (Ford GoBike)

June 11, 2019 (Bay Wheels)
Number of vehicles2,600+[1]

Bay Wheels is a regional public bicycle sharing system in the San Francisco Bay Area, California operated by Motivate (a company based in New York City that operates bicycle sharing systems in the United States), in a partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.[3] Beginning operation in August 2013 as Bay Area Bike Share, the Bay Wheels system currently has over 2,600 bicycles in 262 stations across San Francisco, East Bay and San Jose. On June 28, 2017, the system officially re-launched as Ford GoBike in a partnership with Ford Motor Company.[4] After Motivate's acquisition by Lyft, the system was subsequently renamed to Bay Wheels in June 2019.[5] The system is expected to expand to 7,000 bicycles around 540 stations in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, and San Jose. Bay Wheels is the first regional and large-scale bicycle sharing system deployed in California and on the West Coast of the United States.

As of January 2018, the system had seen nearly 500,000 rides since the launch in 2017 and had about 10,000 annual subscribers.[1]


The system was launched originally as Bay Area Bike Share.

The system was originally launched as Bay Area Bike Share in August 2013. At launch, it became the first regional bicycle sharing system deployed on the West Coast of the United States and also the first regional system in the U.S. that services more than just a single city or adjacent cities.[6][7] The original system was described as a pilot program and consisted of only 700 bicycles with 70 stations, 34 of which were in San Francisco.[8] The program's original administrator was the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which handed off the public management of the system to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in 2016. The launch system was funded with $11.2 million of public funds from a variety of sources, including from the MTC and Air District.[9]

Bay Area Bike Share had originally planned for a larger initial rollout with 1000 bicycles and 50 stations in San Francisco.[10] Plans to expand the original system in 2013 had stalled until 2015 due to problems with the system's suppliers. In particular, PBSC Urban Solutions, which supplied both hardware and software for the system, had filed for bankruptcy.[11] The system's operating company, then called Alta Bicycle Share, had also gone up for sale.[11] The expansion efforts relaunched in 2015 when Alta Bicycle Share had reorganized itself as Motivate after an acquisition. Subsequently, Motivate made a proposal to the MTC to expand the pilot system using private funding. On May 27, 2015, the MTC entered into a contract granting Motivate the exclusive right to operate bike sharing in the target cities and to manage the expansion.[12]

In September 2016, Ford announced that it would sponsor the system with a contribution of $50 million, finally enabling the planned expansion from the original system's 700 bicycles to 7000.[13] Coinciding with the expansion and rebranding as Ford GoBike, Motivate launched several new programs such as integration with Clipper cards and a low-income pricing option. In April 2018, Ford GoBike added 250 electric bicycles by GenZe as part of their fleet.[14][15] The system also launched dockless bike share for its San Jose service area in June 2018.[16]

In June 2019, the system rebranded to Bay Wheels and dropped the Ford naming. Along with the rebranding, Bay Wheels also deployed a new generation of bicycles which can use bikeshare docks and also operate in a dockless mode, in which customers can lock the bike to a bicycle rack with a built-in lock.[5]


The system is operated by Motivate in a partnership with the MTC as program administrator. Motivate also operates several other programs in the United States.[3][17] The initial pilot system was supported with about US$11 million in initial public funding from several regional transportation, environmental and municipal agencies. The current system, relaunched in 2017, is operated with private funding.

Motivate's contract specifies an exclusivity agreement with the MTC, specifying it as the sole operator of bike sharing in the program's cities. Several other companies have expressed interest in operating competing bike sharing systems in San Francisco, which led to a legal settlement allowing a one-time exception for Jump Bikes to operate an e-bike sharing program in San Francisco.[18] Since the settlement, the city of San Francisco has sought to expand the operation of dockless bicycles to additional operators. In response, Lyft has filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to block other competing bicycle sharing operators, citing the exclusivity agreement with MTC.[19] The city disagrees with Lyft on the terms of its exclusivity agreement, arguing that it only grants exclusive rights to operate a docked bicycle sharing system.


The Bay Wheels fleet consists of three kinds of bicycles: standard docked bicycles with a step-through frame, a docked electric-assist bicycle, and a dockless variant of the standard bicycle equipped with a rear-wheel lock. The stations and standard bikes are provided by 8D Technologies and Motivate.[20] The standard bicycles, dubbed Ford GoBike Classic, are aluminum frame utility bicycles equipped with integrated lighting, front luggage rack, and continuously-variable gear shifting.[21][22]

The electric bicycles are provided by GenZe and are equipped with a lithium-ion battery and an LCD display with a speedometer.[15] The bikes have a top speed of 18mph under electric assist.[23] The batteries are currently not automatically charged by the docking stations, which are powered by solar panels, but are instead serviced manually by staff members.

All bicycle docks in the system are equipped with a contactless smart card reader that works with the Clipper card used by the Bay Area's transit agencies.[24] This allows members to tap their Clipper card in order to rent a bicycle without using the dock's electronic kiosk. The Clipper card is only used for identification and cannot be used to pay for bicycle rental from its stored cash.


Service launch in San Jose, California, on August 29, 2013.

The bicycles are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for periods ranging from a single ride (up to 30 minutes) to a day pass, in 30-minute increments, or customers can purchase an annual subscription which gives them unlimited rides up to 45-minutes in duration. Single rides cost $2 per trip, day passes cost $10 per day, and memberships cost $15 per month or $149 per year.[25]

A reduced pricing option called "Bike Share for All" exists for users who qualify for CalFresh, the SFMTA's Lifeline pass, or PG & E's CARE discount.[26] The reduced price is $5/year for the first year and $5/month in subsequent years. This membership option provides rides of 60 minutes without an additional charge. Around 15% of the membership of the bikeshare system uses the Bike Share for All option.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Ford GoBike Bike Share System Passes Growth Milestones" (Press release). Ford GoBike. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  2. ^ "Bay Area Bike Share pilot program to launch on August 29, 2013" (Press release). Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 2013-08-12. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  3. ^ a b WKRG News 5 (2013-08-29). "Bay Area Bike Share debuts today". WKRG. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
  4. ^ Etherington, Darrell (June 27, 2017). "Ford GoBike launches in the Bay Area starting tomorrow". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Said, Carolyn (June 11, 2019). "Lyft renames bike rentals as Bay Wheels". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  6. ^ Krystal Peak (2013-08-29). "Bike share service rolls into the Bay Area today". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  7. ^ Denis Cuff (2013-08-28). "Bay Area Bike Share rolls out Aug. 29". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  8. ^ Kwong, Jessica (2013-09-23). "Bay Area Bike Share off to a fast start". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  9. ^ "Bay Area Bike Share off to a strong start" (Press release). Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  10. ^ Kwong, Jessica (2014-08-26). "Bike share program has had to revamp after first year on the road". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  11. ^ a b Kwong, Jessica (2014-09-15). "National association may help Bay Area Bike Share". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  12. ^ Boone, Andrew (2015-05-28). "It's Coming: MTC Approves 10-Fold Expansion of Bay Area Bike Share". Streetsblog SF. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  13. ^ Goebel, Bryan (2016-09-09). "The Bay Area's Expanded Bike-Share System -- Brought to You by Ford". KQED. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  14. ^ "Ford GoBike Plus launches in San Francisco". Ford GoBike. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  15. ^ a b "Ford And Mahindra Genze Collaborate For GoBike Electric Bicycle In San Francisco - NDTV CarAndBike". CarAndBike. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  16. ^ DeRuy, Emily (2018-06-14). "Ford GoBike launches dockless program in north San Jose". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  17. ^ CBS San Francisco (2013-08-29). "Bike Share Program Launched In 5 Bay Area Cities". CBS 5 KPIX. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
  18. ^ Baldassari, Erin (2018-01-17). "JUMP Bikes to launch dockless, electric bikeshare in San Francisco". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  19. ^ Rodriguez, Joe Fitzgerald (June 7, 2019). "Lyft sues San Francisco to block Uber and other bikeshare competitors". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  20. ^ "World leaders in bike share Motivate and 8D Technologies merge". Cycling Industry News. 2017-02-10. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  21. ^ "Ford GoBike Classic". Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  22. ^ "Motivate Launches Ford GoBike" (Press release). Motivate. 2017-06-28. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  23. ^ Rudick, Roger (2018-04-24). "Ford GoBike Adds Electrics". Streetsblog SF. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  24. ^ "Use your Clipper card to unlock a bike". Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  25. ^ "Membership and pass options". Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  26. ^ "Bike Share for All". Retrieved 2018-06-16.

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