California got its first-ever municipal bike-sharing program on Saturday with the launch of a pilot project in Anaheim.
Tustin-based Bike Nation opened up its initial kiosk with 10 bikes that have airless tires that can't go flat and chainless drivetrains that won't leave grease on your pants.
The bicycles can be rented for 30 minutes or longer and eventually can be returned post-ride at other Anaheim kiosks that will open in future.
Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray, part of the panel that approved the pilot program earlier this year, welcomed Bike Nation, saying it would allow the city's some 20 million annual visitors to pedal between Disneyland, Angel Stadium, the Honda Center and other sites.
"It's the first Bike Nation in the nation and we are just thrilled," Murray said. "Bike sharing is not unique in Europe or Asia, but it is unique in the United States. To have the first program in the western U.S. here in Anaheim is just a tremendous opportunity."
Anaheim won't be the only large West Coast city to feature municipal bike-sharing for long. Los Angeles is expected to welcome Bike Nation to downtown and other LA locations later this year, with some 4,000 bikes, according to company founder Navin Narang.
As with the Anaheim Bike Nation launch, the LA program will be a private investment of $16 million, according to a press release from the company.
Narang said his bike-sharing systems works differently from programs that have debuted in Boston, Washington, D.C., Denver, and other cities. Bike Nation's kiosks are solar-powered, and each of his bikes offers GPS tracking.
The tracking unit allows customers to find out how many miles they traveled, how many calories they burned and how much they reduced their "carbon footprint," Narang said.
"That's really the goal of bike-sharing … to promote eco-friendly means of transportation and promote health," Narang said.
Members swipe their credit cards at bike kiosks, then pick up their bikes, which have been locked to specialized metal gates. The first 30 minutes are free. Memberships are $6 per day, $35 per month or $75 per year.
Test markets have shown that many users are running quick errands on bikes, while some are taking the shared vehicles on short commutes, Narang said.
Much smaller bike-sharing programs exist on several California college campuses and a few other locations, including in Santa Monica and Long Beach, according to KCET.
The initial Anaheim bike-sharing station launched Saturday is at Lincoln Avenue and Harbor Boulevard (map) along Center Street Promenade.
Seven other Anaheim locations are expected to open soon.
In Los Angeles, in addition to downtown, Bike Nation plans to open kiosks in Hollywood, Venice and Westwood.