Santa Monica, California is known as a hotbed of micromobility innovation; it’s where Bird first brought shared scooters to the world, and has been a proving ground for all sorts of other small form factor mobility services and startups. Included in that milieu has been a less glossy but equally important part of the micromobility mix: Breeze Bike Share, a city-subsidized bikesharing service launched nearly five years ago, operated by CycleHop. Unfortunately, due to the intense competition with private operators, combined with COVID-induced complications, Breeze just announced it will be shuttering service as of November 11th, 2020.
While the system has served 149,000 riders and enabled nearly one million rides, the five year old equipment is now nearing the end of its operational life. With the pandemic already stretching civic budgets, the City of Santa Monica is unable to further subsidize Breeze’s operations or modernize the equipment. Breeze Bike Share released a statement to customers, stating:
“The City appreciates the collective community effort it took to launch the system and wants to thank the thousands of Breeze members that have supported the system over the years, Cyclehop for operating the system, LA Metro and the Air quality Management District who paid for the purchase of the bikes and equipment, and a generous title sponsorship from Hulu that helped cover the cost of operations.
The bike share equipment will be sold, donated, and/or recycled in the coming months and removed from the streets by the end of November. The Breeze Bike Share stations will be repurposed as additional shared mobility drop zones. Annual members who have renewed their membership in the last year may be entitled to a prorated refund. Beverly Hills Bike Share members’ subscriptions will remain intact, and they will still have access to the Beverly Hills Bike Share System.”
The city isn’t leaving riders high and dry, however. Santa Monica restated its commitment to micromobility and shared mobility services and will ensure scooters, bikes and more are still available to residents who need them to make their essential trips while reducing congestion and emissions. Both Lyft and Bird will continue to operate their fleets of e-scooters and after October 1st, 2020 Lyft will be launching a fleet of e-bikes in Santa Monica, which should help mitigate the loss of Breeze.
“The City is considering the best way for ensuring that the community is well served with accessible shared e-scooter, e-bike, and pedal bike services. Staff plans to return to Council in Spring 2021 with a recommended path forward for achieving that goal before the Bird and Lyft permits expire on April 30, 2021.”
Header image courtesy Breeze Bike Share