Feature Photo:freewheelinbiker | Photo Above: tsuacctnt

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced yesterday that within the next year, San Francisco plans to start the United States’ first regional bike sharing program, offering bikes to members in San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, and Mountain View, California.

Like a car-sharing program, people can sign up and pay a fee to become members, meaning that they would be able to check out a bike and ride it to any other station in the network. Members would unlock cars with either a prepaid membership card or a credit card, and then be charged based on how long the bike is checked out. There will be no charge for rides 30 minutes or less.

There is also going to be an option for visitors in the area to check out a bike for just a couple days.

Specific prices have not yet been set, but it is estimated that the price will be somewhere between a taxi fare and riding the metro.

The first 1,000 bikes will be available in late 2011 to mid-2012, with a goal of over 10,000 bikes in the area when the project is fully launched.

Bike sharing programs are popping up all over the United States, with the latest one opening in Broward County, Florida (starting in beach cities like Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale) and in Miami Beach, where it is possible to ride a bike pretty much year round.

Source: SFGate

Community Connection:

If you’re looking for other bike friendly cities, there’s a great list of the 15 most bike friendly cities in the world over on Matador Trips!