Members of Solvang City Council dipped their toes into the electric bike pool on Monday evening as they discussed the potential of an electric bike sharing program to serve residents, workers and visitors.
The matter will likely be discussed in more detail as Solvang continues to update its overall plan over the coming year.
âI’ve told a lot of people about it, and there are a lot of comments that say it’s good for the economy, it’s good for your health, and it’s good for the environment. If you don’t drive a car, you don’t put things in the air. It’s good for your health because you are pedaling, âsaid City Councilor Mark Infanti.
Infanti brought up the idea as well as a variety of potential issues he discovered through his own research. While it could be designed to alleviate the impacts of parking and motorized traffic on the city, such a program would require additional infrastructure such as cycle lanes or cycle lanes, a review of sidewalks to include spaces for bollards. charging station for bicycles, and could compete with existing companies that already have bicycle rental plans.
âI don’t know if it’s a good choice for the city, but I wanted to present it to everyone because I like the idea,â said Infanti.
Ideas discussed included providing parking for employees in the outskirts of the city where they could pick up a shared electric bike and cycle around the city center. Such a design could free up downtown parking for visitors and customers.
Infanti said the program could also be a fun add-on activity for tourists and has the potential to provide publicity to local businesses sponsoring the program.
He looked at several cities that have implemented such programs, including Santa Barbara, which has 140 e-bikes and 283 parking / charging stations throughout the downtown area.
Big cities are implementing the program at no cost, with e-bike rental companies reaping all the benefits. Solvang, Infanti said, is not large enough to meet the demand for ridership which could cover all costs, let alone generate profits, so a cost cited was $ 114,000 to establish the program and 48,000 $ per year to maintain it.
The program could compete with the city’s existing alternative transportation programs, including horse-drawn carriages, electric carts and taxis. Despite this, City Councilor Claudia Orona, whose family owns the city’s licensed transport and cart operations, has expressed interest in such a program.
An avid cyclist, Orona first used an electric bike as part of a shuttle loan program between camps in Black Rock City.
âIt’s a great alternative to get from point A to point B. It’s a completely different experience. They are a lot of fun, âshe said.
Like Infanti and Mayor Charlie Uhrig, Orona has said she would like the city to address a variety of ongoing issues that could be exacerbated by an influx of e-bikes. They included: infrastructure improvements for sidewalks; cycle paths and cycle paths; and research and address the impact such a program could have on city law enforcement.
Orona asked the city to survey downtown workers to see if they would be interested in using such a program before looking any further to facilitate it.
Orona, Uhrig and Tracy Beard, executive director of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce, all urged the city to approach existing bike shops and other businesses that already offer rentals before considering a business outside of the city. the city.
âI think before I go ahead as a city, I would like to look at the private sector, which they do, before I go ahead,â Beard said.
In other actions, board members:
– Approved, despite Beard’s protest, the recommendation of the Tourism Advisory Board to extend the city’s marketing contract with IDK / Cogs & Marvel until June 30, 2022, at a cost of $ 300,000.
– Voted unanimously to join the Santa Barbara County Broadband Alliance in developing and implementing a strategic broadband plan. The plan will identify where the needs are, and then cities will be approached to meet those needs. Funding could come from a portion of the recently approved $ 65 billion in federal funding and $ 6 billion in state funding for such programs. The partnership includes the Association of Governments of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara County, Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Solvang.
– Reminded community members that the town is in a stage 2 drought warning and residents have been mandated to reduce water use by 20% compared to the same time last year. Penalties are now billed through monthly water bills.