West Hollywood bike-sharing launches, UCLA system coming next

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Los Angeles may have been late to the bike-share party after large cities like New York and Washington, D.C., launched their programs years ago.

But it's playing catch up in a major way, with the fifth bike-share program in L.A. county launching in West Hollywood Tuesday.

WeHo Pedals, as the system is called, allows users to check out one of 150 bikes, ride it a short distance and then drop it off either at a designated bike station, or elsewhere within the service area for an additional $2 fee.

West Hollywood's bike-share program is the same as systems launched earlier in Santa Monica, Long Beach and Beverly Hills. It uses a "smart bike" that carries all the check-out technology on the bike instead of at a docking kiosk.

UCLA will be the next to get the smart bike system. Users will need only a single account to access all of the Westside bike-share systems. Monthly and annual passes can be purchased for varying amounts and a single walk-up ride costs between $5 and $7 for 60 minutes, depending on the city where the bike is rented.

The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority chose a different company for its bike-share program, which rolled out this July in downtown Los Angeles. Unlike the Westside smart bikes, Metro's bikes must be checked in and out of designated docks that contain the payment system.

Local officials expressed concern when Metro chose its vendor last year. Different systems than the one already contracted by Santa Monica and the other cities could cause compatibility issues and make it more difficult for users to ride the bikes between jurisdictions.

Metro officials said the bikes would be separated by large geographic distances and, due to their heavy design, are not intended for long rides.

The Santa Monica bike-share system has installed bike stations in neighboring Venice, where Metro plans to eventually expand its own system. That could make for two competing systems in the same area.

Metro hopes to make it easier to transfer between the systems by creating a unified payment system using the TAP card. Currently the TAP card can be used to check out both types of bikes, but users must have two separate accounts for the different systems.

If you've tried out the new WeHo bikes, let us know how it went in the comments below. You can also tweet @KPCC or post your experience on our Faceback page.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Wednesday as the launch of the WeHo bike-share program. It was Tuesday. KPCC regrets the error.

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