A free electric bike loan program has just been launched in Pacoima. Here’s how it works

A new mobility program will give residents of the northeast San Fernando Valley access to free e-bikes.

Double Electro-Bici, the Pacoima-centric program will operate as a “bicycle library,” lending long-term e-bikes to residents there and in nearby communities. It won’t be the bike-sharing rack you might see in other parts of LA County — residents who join the program can keep the bikes for up to nine months.

Initially, around 30 bikes will be available for the first “cohort” of riders, said Andres Ramirez, executive director of People for Mobility Justicebut that could be expanded to include more of the program’s 100-bike fleet.

Ramirez’s group is one of the local partner organizations to run the program, and said it’s excited to see how residents are using them.

“It’s definitely commuting – commuting to work and school,” he said. “Getting around for regular errands, going to the doctor, getting groceries – the bikes have a basket, so people will be able to use it to carry things.”

One of the main goals is to “get cars off the streets” in a community that is “surrounded by toxic facilities,” Ramirez said. Residents of Pacoima have long suffered from dangerous air pollution, even by Los Angeles smog standards.

He also hopes e-bikes will become personal economic engines for residents.

“There are a lot of people in the community who are busy selling on the streets, doing underground economy work, and how can these bikes be an asset to that? It is something that we absolutely want to cultivate. »

Bicycle locks and helmets will be provided to cyclists, as well as a series of training courses on the use of bicycles and the rules of the road. The program also hires a bike mechanic and will handle repairs for cohort cyclists free of charge.

Ramirez also noted that staff “do not want to put the onus on community members to charge at home”, so while riders will have that option, staff will also have a centralized site where extra batteries will be charged and can be quickly replaced.

Another goal, Ramirez noted, is that the sustained use of dozens of bright red, “highly visible” bikes will spark conversations with city and county transportation agencies “about improving infrastructure in the valley.”

“We think it’s an opportunity,” Ramirez said. “Let’s have more infrastructure here, let’s build better bike paths, let’s build clear crosswalks, better lighting, things like that… to help people feel comfortable with sharing roads.”

After the nine-month pilot period, the plan is to assess how well the bikes have worked for residents and develop an equitable membership program, Ramirez said, with an emphasis on “accessibility and convenience.” affordability”.

(Courtesy of Pacoima Beautiful)

If the red e-bikes look familiar, that’s because they used to be part of Uber’s Jump fleet. But after the ride-sharing giant lost $2.9 billion in the early months of the pandemic, it sold its e-bike and e-scooter services to Lime. In the process, tens of thousands of the company’s older e-bike models have been scrapped. This upset many mobility advocates, who argued that the bikes could have been repurposed, especially given the high demand for e-bikes since the pandemic.

Eventually Jump donated some of their bikes, of which 3,000 were donated to Shared Mobility Inc., a New York-based organization. The group has refurbished the bikes and is expanding its e-bike libraries to several US cities, including Durham, NC, Chicago and now Los Angeles.

It should be noted that Pacoima’s e-bike program represents a community-led effort to bring free and accessible e-bikes to communities whose for-profit mobility companies like Jump, Lime and Bird have mostly stayed away. ‘difference. Fair micromobility is certainly not their strengthand Ramirez said it was a motivator to provide repurposed e-bikes to predominantly Latino neighborhoods in the Northeast Valley.

“That’s why we felt [we should] do it and do it in a way that we think will work best for the community,” he said.

Electro-Bici is financed by a community grant for emission reduction of the LA Department of Water and Power. The program is managed locally by People for Mobility Justice and pacoima beautiful.

If you live in the northeast San Fernando Valley and want to buy an electric bike, you can apply online to join the Electro-Bici program.

What questions do you have about getting around in Los Angeles?

Ryan Fonseca explores the challenges communities face in getting from point a to point b and potential solutions on the road, sidewalk, track and bike path. 🚴🏽‍♀️ 👨🏿‍🦽 🚶‍♂️ 🚇 🚙 🛴 🚌

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