Bike-sharing company DecoBike rides into San Diego
Asst. Business Editor
As of Nov. 3, the bike-sharing company DecoBike is officially live in San Diego.
DecoBike uses solar powered bike stations that allow customers to either rent bikes by the hour or sign up for membership deals. With stations located in popular areas all over San Diego, such as downtown, around Balboa Park, and even in Mission and Pacific beach, this new company has the potential to appeal to students looking for a green and easy mode of transportation without driving.
Common to all the other bike-sharing programs in major cities around the U.S., DecoBike has stations filled with their shareable bikes. The customer chooses a bike to rent and for how long, then pays at a machine for a certain amount of time either per hour or with their membership card and then returns the bike to a station closest to their final destination.
According to their website, standard membership in DecoBike will be $99 annually or $20 monthly. However, this is only until they get their first 1,500 signups, after that the annual price will jump up to $125. If a customer desires to pay per rental, DecoBike offers unlimited 30 minute rentals with membership, otherwise it is $5 for a half hour or $7 for an hour.
Sophomore Brittany Pikula supports the green efforts of the company but doesn’t feel like she agrees with the pricing.
“I feel I would rather spend the money and get my own good bike that is strictly mine and know I can always rely on it,” Pikula said. “Because after a few years it wouldn’t add up to the money spent.”
An online report in the Voice of San Diego states that DecoBike in San Diego has some of the highest prices out of all the bike-sharing companies in the U.S., even higher than New York or Washington, D.C. This is due to the fact that DecoBike is funded entirely by an $8 million investment from the company itself; it doesn’t use any government subsidies or other private funding.
John Anderson, a board member in BikeSD, said that DecoBike could take the same direction as New York’s bike-share program by allowing big companies to invest in the program and advertise at the stands or on the bikes themselves. This would potentially lower membership prices as the naming rights given to the big company would generate revenue that might not be acquired through membership.
“I think there is a threshold that could dis-incentivize people from joining DecoBike,” Anderson said. “But hopefully they will reach out to local companies to make the annual subscriptions more affordable if that becomes a problem.”
However, Pikula and other USD students are dissuaded from using this company. Sophomore Jessica Luhrs would also rather invest in her own bike as opposed to joining a sharing program.
“I don’t really agree with it,” Luhrs said. “I feel like I could buy a bike on Craigslist or revamp one I already own for less than $125. Then again I wouldn’t have to worry as much about bike theft which would be nice.”
It seems the only plus side for joining or renting from DecoBike for students would be the fact that they would not have to be concerned with finding a place to lock their bike around town. They would just have to return it to a station.
However there are no DecoBike stations located on campus and the nearest ones are on Fiesta Island Drive or just east of the Fashion Valley Mall. The company is seeking to make San Diego more “green” with it’s transportation, a mission that the USD community supports.
But until there is a noticeable and cheaper presence on campus, students will buy their own bikes to commute from their dorms to class.
Sophomore Maria McDonald-Hulen is one of those students who loves biking to and from class, but probably wouldn’t rent from DecoBike.
“I love having a bike in college,” Mcdonald-Hulen said. “Since I own a bike I like, I don’t think I’d become a member, but I love that the company is promoting green transportation and healthy activities.”
With limited funds common to the college student, investing in one bike and paying one price as opposed to an annual fee is the more popular choice.
Sophomore Adam Moreau is an avid biker and provides multiple bike services through the Outdoor Adventures program on campus. He would consider using DecoBike, but does not feel it would be a worthy investment because he prefers having his own bike on campus.
“If I lived in downtown, I might consider the program,” Moreau said. “However, for $125 I could get a decent bike of my own. I think it would primarily come down to how much space I had and if I already had a good bike of my own. Biking is great, but I’m also on a tight college budget. I think bikesharing is great in general and would love to see more of it.”