STOCKTON, Calif. — Nearly $7 million in state funding has cleared the way for an electric bike-share and electric carshare program to take off in the city of Stockton and coordinators are now asking for suggestions from the public.
In November of 2020, the California Air Resources Board awarded the San Joaquin Council of Governments a $7.4 million grant from the state's Sustainable Transportation Equity Project. The project is designed to increase access to transportation in disadvantaged and low-income communities.
San Joaquin County was one of only three jurisdictions in the state to receive the grant. Officials with the San Joaquin Council of Governemnts say their work started well before the grant funding was approved.
"We learned a lot over the years about what the needs are on the ground," said San Joaquin Council of Governments Senior Regional Planner Christine Corrales. "That really helped inform the projects themselves and made a really strong case to the state of how deserving this region is for these resources."
The San Joaquin Council of Governments chose to use their millions in funding to create the Stockton Mobility Collective.
The collective, Corrales said, plans to create a local workforce to maintain the new nonprofit electric car and bike-share services, offer incentives for using the shared programs and promote online ticketing for San Joaquin Regional Transit District busses.
"This is a resource that communities can really use in getting back to work, getting back to school, getting back out in the community," Corrales said. "Mobility is a really important aspect of everyday life and sometimes we take it for granted how difficult it might be to get from point A to point B if you don't have a vehicle here in Stockton."
One of the programs funded under the grant is an electric bike-share program, being rolled out by the Mobility Development Foundation.
Tyler Madell, who works with the foundation, has been hitting the pavement and sidewalks of Stockton for the past week.
"I have been riding around town on this e-bike and there's been a lot of excitement from people," Madell said. "For a lot of people, it's the first time they've ridden a pedal-assist e-bike."
Madell has been visiting several neighborhoods in Stockton demonstrating the bikes and asking for community input on where the 'e-bike hubs' should be placed.
"Once the program is up and running, there'll be about 12 different bike-share hubs around the city, and you can sign up to be a member of the program," Madell said.
When the program is ready to roll out, Madell said the process will be simple. First, like with electric bike programs in other cities, users will need to download an app, sign up for the program and input credit card information.
Then, the bike user can use the phone app to scan a QR code near the handles of the bike which will unlock the bike, already ready for the user to ride.
"These bikes have built-in locking mechanisms so you can lock the bike right to a pole, to a bike rack, it makes it very easy to lock up the bike where you are." Madell said. "Transportation is a human right and we are doing this program with that in mind and with that at our core."
According to the San Joaquin Council of Governments, the electric car share program would work in similar ways. Hubs of electric cars would be placed in underserved areas and offered to residents at a per-hour rate as low as $4 per hour or $35 a day.
While Madell says they are still unsure of when the program will be fully operational with around 100 e-bikes in Stockton, the foundation is in the planning phase and is asking the public for suggestions on where to place 12 hubs for the e-bikes.
The Hubs would permanently house the 100 bikes and serve as a parking spot in between rides and overnight. Those with suggestions can submit location ideas on the Council of Government's website.
"You still have to pedal, you still get some exercise but I like to say it feels like you have a gentle wind blowing at your back," Madell said. "When you have an e-bike, it's easier to show up places not being sweaty."
Officials with the San Joaquin Council of Governments say that they hope to have all portions of their Stockton Mobility Collective in operation by the end of 2022. They say they hope to target areas in Midtown, Downtown and South Stockton where they believe the services can have the greatest impact.
"There's a great need for mobility services and access in downtown and south Stockton where not as many folks have access to their own cars," Corrales said. "These new mobility services are intended to kind of fill that gap and really help residents, who are dependent on transit have a little bit more accessibility in the community a little bit more mobility."
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