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Bishop Ranch, a California business park offers suburban workers a healthy transportation option.
Nestled among the rolling hills of the San Ramon Valley in Northern California, the sprawling, 585-acre business park of Bishop Ranch functions as the Monday to Friday home of 30,000 workers in 600 companies. Tenants of Bishop Ranch include Chevron, General Electric, IBM, PG&E, Robert Half International, Bank of the West, Toyota and AT&T. While there is a bus system bringing commuters in from town, considerable distances between amenities within the park itself mean that many workers end up driving. With the launch of BRite Bikes, a bike share program for the park’s workers, Chris Weeks hopes to change that.
Weeks is the director of transportation at Bishop Ranch. On December 3, 2014, he rolled out a 100-unit bike share program to provide an eco-friendly, healthy alternative to driving. The BRite Bikes bicycles – powered by Social Bicycles and operated by CycleHop – are unique among bike shares in that they don’t rely on docking stations. They can simply be picked up and dropped off anywhere within Bishop Ranch, offering riders an unusual level of flexibility for a community bike program.
The bikes are powered by a combination solar panel and generator hub and a GPS tracking system and built-in U-lock makes them virtually theft-proof. Without the need for docking infrastructure, Bishop Ranch was able to provide 10 times as many bikes for the same cost as a dock-dependent system.
BRite Bikes fits into the wider trend of communities, companies, and individuals opting for sustainable, affordable transportation options. Google, Apple, and Facebook are just a few of the big companies bringing bicycles to the forefront of their employee transportation systems with their campus bike programs.
BRite Bikes is not only following suit, but aims to improve upon the current model with pick-up/ drop-off flexibility, and it seems to be working. Within a few days of the launch, BRite Bikes already had 35 annual members signed up. “We have seen coworkers riding to surrounding businesses for lunch and coffee,” said Weeks. “And others riding to a town five miles north for lunch today along the Iron Horse Trail.” In the long run, Weeks hopes to see the program expand to the entire suburban area of San Ramon.
The success of these programs are proving that bicycle commuting and bike shares are no longer just for dense, urban centers, but are an increasingly viable and desirable alternative to the car-centric lifestyle in urban and suburban communities alike.