WeHo Pedals Program Falls Far Short in Generating Revenue

city of west hollywood bike sharing
WeHo Pedals (Photo by Joshua Barash)

WeHo Pedals, West Hollywood’s bike share program, has fallen fall short of projected revenue from riders and advertisers and sponsors.

A report from the city’s Community Development Department states that “In the first 16 months of operations, while operating as a geographically isolated system and without a permanent system sponsor, WeHo Pedals is not yet on a path to become financially self-sustaining.”

“The revenue received over the last twelve months only covers 33% of the system’s operational costs ($344,750 a year); excluding city employee costs,” the report states. The city also has incurred $155,800 in city staff expenses, bringing the total cost of the program to $500,500.

The report says total revenue generated by the memberships and rides equaled only 13% of the revenue projected for the program. When advertising and sponsored revenue is factored in, the program generated only 19% of the projected revenue. That left the program with a loss of $386,799, which doesn’t include city’s initial capital investment of about $500,000.

The bike share program, launched in August 2016, has 150 “smart bikes” at 21 stations, 19 in West Hollywood and two at the Grove shopping center. The program is operated by CycleHop LLC, which plans and operates bike share programs throughout North America. The “Smart Bikes” used in the system are manufactured by Social Bicycles, which uses wireless technology to allow riders to use a smartphone app to reserve bikes, pay for using them and track and share ride data with friends online.

People can rent the bikes by the hour for $7 or buy monthly or annual memberships. The monthly plan costs $25 and gives one 90 minutes of ride time a day. The annual plan costs $99 and also provides 90 minutes a day or ride time. There is a $7 monthly plan for students and also special plans for low-income people.

While the WeHo Pedals program has fallen far short of its financial objects, the WeHo Pedals annual report calls the program a success based on its ridership numbers, which it says “have shown that there is a healthy appetite for bike share as a mode of transportation in West Hollywood.”

According to that report, the program has 1,656 active users, with the vast majority (1,479) using the pay-by-hour method to use the bikes. There are 98 people with annual memberships, 33 with monthly memberships and 46 with student memberships. The number of riders has increased steadily since the launch of the program, but the number of paid memberships has not.

The annual report says that WeHo Pedals users made 16,743 trips in 2016, travelling a total of 24,685 miles.

CycleHop’s contract with the city calls for it to secure an overall, long-term sponsor for the bike share program. An example of such a sponsorship would be Citibank’s decision in 2013 to sponsor New York City’s bike share program, which is known as Citi Bike.

CycleHop now has contracted with Premier Partnerships, to help it find sponsors. Premier negotiates sponsorships for stadiums such as the Rose Bowl Stadium and theatres such as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

“Based on the fact that there are currently no prospective sponsors in negotiation, and the limited window of opportunity for inclusion in the calendar year budget cycle, the sponsorship team does not expect that the program will be able to garner a title sponsor in FY2018,” the report states.

Because of that, city staffers are working with CycleHop to find short-term sponsors. Google was one such sponsor in November of last year, and Paul Frank was another in December, with the city getting $31,000 in net revenue. Paul Frank is the comic illustrator whose popular images have inspired a brand that includes clothing and musical instruments.

“If CycleHop does not have a title sponsor or comparable sponsorship program in contract negotiation by the end of the 2018 fiscal year, staff may recommend an amendment to the CycleHop contract for the city to contract directly with an alternate vendor to procure a sponsor for the system,” the report states.

Another source of continuing income is the sale of advertising space on panels located at 11 of the bike share stations. Sales of the ad panels are managed by Outfront/Decaux as part of the city’s bus shelter contract. Over the past 12, those sales have totalled $49,803.

The Community Development Department will ask the West Hollywood City Council on Tuesday to approve a revenue sharing and operations agreement between West Hollywood and other regional bike share partners including the cities of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and UCLA for an integrated regional bike share system, to be called Bike Share Connect.

“The integration will create a seamless experience for WeHo Pedals riders traveling within and between these partnering jurisdictions without being limited by the individual system boundaries,” the proposal says.

The department also will ask the City Council to consider “an emerging bike share technology called ‘dockless’ or ‘free-floating’ bikes that are operated by private vendors and require no public funds for capital or operational costs.

“In order to properly address the benefits and challenges of this new bike sharing model, the Council may wish to either conduct a pilot program to define terms and conditions to control operation of potential private bike share vendors in the city, or prohibit such operators in West Hollywood altogether.”


42 Comments
  1. @SaveWeHo, not everyone can partake in those “whataboutisms.” I can’t use some of those transportation benefits unless I’m 62 years old (that’s not “everyone”). I won’t use the dog park, because I don’t have a dog (that’s not “everyone”). I’m not going to take the shuttle to Hollywood and Highland if I have no reason to go there, although I suppose I could, if I found a reason. Just like some people aren’t going to use the bike share program, because they choose not to, not because they “can’t.” And then there are some that “can’t.”

  2. @Randy It always amazes me with people and their “whataboutisms”. All those other programs you listed everyone can partake in. I’m not against bikes, but to spend 500k on a program when you can buy your own bike is wasteful spending. I would rather have that money put into safety, more streetlight crosswalks, money for late night safety patrols, more affordable housing…..you get what I’m saying.

  3. @SaveWeho, you said “I don’t think public funds should go towards benefiting only one part of society.”

    Should they then dismantle the “Cityline X” or the “PickUp Line,” since that is mainly used by commuters and nightlife partiers? The former doesn’t benefit those that aren’t commuting from Hollywood and Highland.

    How about “Dial a Ride”, the “Bus Pass Subsidy” program, or the “Taxi Assistance Program,” which is only for people 62 and over?

    The new dog park isn’t very useful to me, since I only have a cat.

    I hope you get my point.

    As far as the bike share program goes, they’ve already invested in it, it is already there, and they need to wait longer to see if it can be sustainable. Or maybe it won’t be, but residents will benefit from free memberships.

    What I want to see the most is changes to infrastructure and an increase in awareness of bicyclists. If I want to own a bike and ride around on it to do errands, I know I’m taking a risk, and I own that. At the same time, I’d like to see the city do whatever they can to make it as safe as possible, just like I want them to do for pedestrians and motorists. Most of all, I’d like to see people change their “anti-bike” attitudes. If someone doesn’t feel safe on one, they can abstain from riding. But they can also share the road, and pay attention to what’s in front of them while driving.

  4. @Randy

    “there is no reason that West Hollywood cannot be a bike-friendly city”

    I 100% agree with you. But I don’t think $500k a year is a wise use of money when that money can go towards a more universal form of transportation. Not all of us are young or healthy enough to bike and do errands like you or @Karen. There is an aging population and disabled population where this kind of bike riding is not even possible. Put that money in a small mass transit project that helps everyone. I don’t think public funds should go towards benefiting only one part of society.

    1. I agree. Maybe 500k for Free WiFi for the city/residents, or some kind of subsidy or discount on cable/directv high monthly fees. Something universally applicable to virtually all or most WeHo residents.

  5. These bikes should be removed from public sidewalks. They area offensively ugly sight, make the whole environment look junky, not to mention having that putridly ugly green color shoved in your face everywhere you go. They are simply an added blight to an already congested area. Besides, Santa Monica Blvd is a very dangerous street to ride a bike on. I think West Hollywood copied Santa Monica or somewhere with this project, which is what they usually do – wait till another city comes up with an idea then copies it. Santa Monica has some beautiful bike riding streets & lanes. For them it makes sense. for crowded congested West Hollywood they are not, they are a bad idea for many reasons.

  6. Keep WeHo Pedals. It takes time to start up initiatives to change people’s behavior. Someday I hope we end up like the Netherlands where most end up bicycling.

    It’s good for the environment. It’s good for our overall health. It’s good in keeping down traffic congestion. All of these concerns should be evaluated in the cost of keeping this program.

    Personally, I use WeHo Bikes to run errands and to get to appointments within the city. I use the car if I have to go outside of the WeHo perimeters.

  7. To clarify, when I said “Maybe if there were more of us on the road, they would? Maybe people wouldn’t continuously keep this “car is king” attitude?,” I was referring to SMB, not Fountain. Fountain will never be wide enough to safely accommodate cars and cyclists.

    As Karen said, let people make their own decisions here.

  8. @SaveWeho, whatever your criticisms of the bike share program are, West Hollywood is still not “spread out.” No city that is 1.9 square miles could be. I could ride from one end of the city to the other, east to west, and then north to south, in well under 30 minutes. Probably faster than I could drive, during rush hour. And yes, I happen to be one of those people, like Karen, who has gone out for errands and groceries, on a bicycle. If there are multiple errands to run, it can be super convenient. Better than walking, driving, or public transportation, because I don’t have to continually look for parking, or park my car and walk from destination to destination.

    I will admit that I don’t feel safe riding the entire stretch of SMB, and not on Fountain, at all. Parts of it are too narrow, and cars don’t respect cyclists. Maybe if there were more of us on the road, they would? Maybe people wouldn’t continuously keep this “car is king” attitude?

    When I’m going east/west, I tend to take Willoughby, which can be a pain, as it is 2 blocks south of SMB. I feel fine on the stretch of SMB that has bike lanes, and always wear a helmet.

    Bike share program, or no bike share program, there is no reason that West Hollywood cannot be a bike-friendly city. Other than infrastructure changes, some people need to change their attitudes, in order to make this happen.

  9. @ Karen O’Keefe: It would be useful for you to realize that you just “might” be the exception here as you feel compelled to perpetuate the same argument. Although you may indeed have just the right type o agility, keenness and lifestyle that merges with extensive bike use while perhaps not a bikeahoholic, efforts to jam a square peg into a round hole repeatedly seems an extraordinary effort. While not condoning any type of “nanny state” it is appropriate to consider if this financially failing concept is wise or foolish for the general public and look outside your own safety tolerance realm. Perhaps the lack of use may be illustrative of safety concerns on behalf of potential riders.

    Too many drivers have little or no awareness or respect for those on bikes regardless of what the well meaning law states. We can’t even get folds off their cellphones while driving. Additionally, many have demanded the city make our streets safer for driving which seems to be the first step which then might exponentially extend to more safety for those choosing to ride.

  10. SaveWeho’s claim: “You cant do errands, groceries or ‘go out’ with a bicycle. Its sole purpose is for ‘fun’.”

    Reality: There is no secret setting on a bike that prevents it from being used as transportation, which is exactly what I use mine for. I don’t like exercising solely for the sake of exercising. Exercising for transportation (ie biking) is lovely.

    I bike to do errands in our tiny city all the time. I bike to Target, to Pavilions, to Ralph’s, to get my haircut, to go to the library, to Runyon Canyon, and to City Hall and the City Council. I also bike to Culver City 1-2 times most week. Our city is compact, pretty flat in most areas, and is thus extremely bikeable. It could use better bike infrastructure, though.

    Let the spinning continue’s claim: “Not much concern for safety …. Logic escaped everyone. Another unrealistic financial debacle. But hey, lets push this on all the unsuspecting“

    We’re not children, we can make our own decisions about whether or not to bike. Yes, there is some risk involved (and let us be clear, that risk is posed by people using two-ton machines powered by fossil fuels as their transportation, often while using their smart phones and/or speeding). The city should work to make our city far safer for biking, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t promote biking in the meantime. The fewer people driving cars, the fewer may crash into me and kill me. And the less CO2 our city emits.

    Given that it’s people driving cars — not people on bikes — that kill 37,000+ Americans a year, if you’re in favor of a nanny state that doesn’t let people choose to take risks, perhaps it’s them you should be seeking to stop.

  11. So for $500,5000 (not including the $500,000 start up cost), people took 16,473 rides. That comes to a cost of $29.89 a ride that the city is spending. That doesn’t seem like a good investment. If you include the $500K startup cost, it brings it close to costing the city $60 a ride.

    Also, 16,473 rides for the year, equates to 45 rides a day. So for $500,000 45 people on average are riding a bike.

    At what point does the city throw in the towel and use that $500,000 on something more useful?

    1. But the City giving up on their “great idea” which cost so much, will probably have to go the way the City manages it’s ideas …. Keep throwing tons of money on top of the overpriced initial price the city believed acceptable. Hopefully, for once, a boondoggle and massive wased investment will CUT THE CITY LOSSES rather than another 500k, which in weho means probably twice that amount when all is said and done … If the don’t CUT THE LOSSES ASAP … Breaking with the traditional wasting of money that could be used to benefit residents.

  12. One would think that last night Councilmember Lauren Meister said it all: bought a $99. membership, took one trip down Melrose and decided it was too dangerous.
    After the discussion last night, she folded.

    The rationale was really troubling. Not much concern for safety, major concern for the environment in a situation where it is unlikely that cycling, as a means of primary transportation, would be successful. Logic escaped everyone.
    Another unrealistic financial debacle. But hey, lets push this on all the unsuspecting tourists through the hotels….folks that have not a clue about out traffic.

    As Manny said: “a pipe dream” . Wonder what was in that pipe?

    @ erik: Ticketing bikes on sidewalks? Who would do that? There aren’t enough deputies to ticket the 70mph speeders on Fountain. Good luck!

  13. @Randy. Weho spans from Sunset Blvd down to Melrose in places. Doheny to La Brea is a pretty far distance too and how would a bike rider go down SM, Fountain maybe Willoughby? Its not a bike friendly town with cars, traffic, parked cars. There is better use for this money for mass transit. You cant do errands, groceries or “go out” with a bicycle. Its sole purpose is for “fun”. I find half a million dollars a waste for an “entertainment” activity. And like many said. If you’re really into biking…go buy a $99 bike at Target.

  14. SaveWeho, “WeHo is too spread out?” It is 1.9 square miles, and less than 3 miles from one end to the other.

  15. All great comments, even funny ones, thank you @WeHo conscience!

    Here’s the deal: It was an experiment. Changing culture and behaviors to be more bike-friendly is a good idea. But, not having the proper infrastructure–proper bike lanes that run through multiple cities–means that the experiment can no longer continue.

    I applaud the City for being creative in this endeavor. Though I don’t see WeHo being a ‘bike town’ anytime soon.

  16. @Coby……Here is the official rule:

    “Where there is no bicycle lane present, cyclists may travel on the sidewalk in the SAME direction as vehicular traffic, and must YIELD to pedestrians.

    FYI.

  17. @Coby…..You are mistaken, bicycles are NOT allowed on the sidewalks in Weho.

    It’s alarming that someone who is a subscriber to this boondoggle is not educated about why it is UNSAFE and PROHIBITED to ride bicycles on sideWALKs.

    1. I think the City and Law enforcement need the education first about riding bikes on our sidewalks. I have speeding bikers scare my dog when we are walking on the sidewalk. No sheriff or bike patrol has ever stopped a single biker in my years of experience.

  18. I’m one of those 98 yearly subscribers – it was worth it to me to have a bike always ready without having to worry about maintenance and care. I used it a lot at first, but I would say I use it a lot less now because of the following concerns:

    1. Santa Monica Bl is the major artery here, and I just don’t feel safe riding on it. Where the bike lanes are is better than where there are no lanes, but it’s all very scary. The sidewalk is legal where there is no lane east of Kings Rd, but pedestrians and other congestion (narrow areas around cafes and driveway traffic) make it a trial. Willoughby is an alternative on the east side, but it’s narrow and cars speed by you, and you have to go two long blocks out of your way at each end of your trip. I would rather just walk or take the bus and not arrive feeling like I’ve taken my life in my hands.
    2. The bikes themselves are very heavy, and the handlebars turn in too much and are not comfortable on the wrists. I’m not tall (5’8″ on a good day), but they feel very cramped front-to-back – it can’t be easy to size a bike everyone can ride, maybe the answer is a large and small size? And honestly, I know they’re trying for a modern, edgy, devil-may-care vibe, but they’re kinda goofy looking and riding around with the various suggestive slogans written on the bike gets old.
    3. The constant question of what to do with the helmet at my destination – it’s just awkward to have to hang on to it. If I was using the bikes to commute to work this would be less of an issue, but if they want people to use them for short trips and shopping, helmet stowage is a problem.

    My 2 cents (and 99 dollars). I hope the program succeeds in some form – it really is a good idea. But until our world is a little friendlier to bikes, I think its utility for me is limited.

  19. Dumb Idea. The City should have more shuttles. People ride the bikes on the sidewalks and they are not ticketed

  20. I paid the $99 for the annual membership and it’s great!! That’s like $8/month! I know I can buy a cheap bike but frankly I don’t want to store it, maintain/repair it, etc. its highly convenient and I’m saving money on Uber. Thankfully we can ride them on the sidewalks in WeHo, so traffic is not a huge safety concern for me, but you do have to be careful at intersections and roads. I would like to see more bike lanes and more stations in other parts of WeHo…like Sunset blvd, melrose, at all parks, etc. I think the lack of subscribers is due more to poor advertising of the membership option. Most people probably think it’s just an hourly thing. Overall, thumbs up from me.

  21. Waste of money. Weho is not like other cities. Its too congested and its still to spread out to make something like this viable. They should have invested the $400k (and any future monies if they dont disband it) into a trolley, mass transit, monorail that runs down SM blvd from Doheny to La Brea. Now that is something people will use to get from Point A to Point B.

  22. It’s too bad that the sponsorship hasn’t panned out yet, but WeHoPedals is a great contribution to our community and this nascent program shouldn’t be judged on its deficit. With its recent expansions and plans for interoperability with Beverly Hills, UCLA, and Santa Monica, there are many more destinations, and the upward trend in ridership should continue.

    In its first year of operation, riders took over 16,000 WeHo Pedals trips — meaning less traffic, less pollution, and less greenhouse gas emissions. It may have resulted even fewer car trips if residents tried out biking in the city using WeHoPedals and ended up getting their own bikes and biking more. While that might not help with the program’s bottom line, it does help our city’s commitment to addressing climate change.

    I was very encouraged that the City Council is exploring some kind of free memberships for residents, so that more people might get out of their cars utilize bike share.

    It takes time for a new program to grow and expand, and investing in getting people out of cars is of extreme importance to our region and our the livability of the planet we all inhabit.

  23. Councilmember Meister had it right. She bought a $99.membership used it once for a ride on Melrose and decided it was UNSAFE!. So now the idea is to push it on the unsuspecting tourists. This is tragically off center!

    People that are bike aficianados own their own and are invested in its death wish philosophy. OUR CITY IS UNSAFE FOR THIS iDEA. It will never be a mode of meaningful transportation.. GIVE IT UP!!!!!!

    1. Again, after the number of people with experience biking in WeHo who confirm what looks and I see in fact is TOO DANGEROUS TO BIKE IN WEHO.

  24. This program lost $400,000. Who do they think they are, LA Gay Pride?!

    I like promoting the idea of cycling but the city got sold this program without thought to scale, safe bike routes, or realistic popularity and cost. WeHo is not like beach cities with bike lanes like Santa Monica or Venice. These areas already have a thriving bike culture and their bike programs are popular with tourists. I support linking WeHo to BH and other nearby destination so there is greater utility unconstrained by our crazy borders.

    As an alternative: it’s notable that the capital cost of $500,000 would buy 2500 nice bikes (at $200 each) to distribute/loan/gift for free. With no ongoing costs whatever and without pressure to hire a firm to procure sponsors to defray the cost of the firm and so on. A second year would yield another 2500 bikes for a total of 5000 bikes which would probably cover most WeHo residents that would use one. Imagine how many helmets that would provide.

    The notion the city should pay more for sponsored projects than it costs to simply pay for these programs outright has become a form of patronage for some and a costly joke to us taxpayers.

  25. And this is a surprise why? Who is going to use these over-populated bikes to cover costs? We live in West Hollywood, have a car, we can walk. It’s not that big of a town. Let’s be honest….West Hollywood really isn’t a bike friendly town. We think we are because we want to feel all good about being green, but no, sorry not sorry. Another over-spend by the city. Waiting for the next big financial blunder.

  26. Almost $156,000 just for city expense? I would really like to know exactly what that is for. Since the city is considering to sever their accounts with Wells Fargo, perhaps WF can be talked into funding the entire program if we stay with them. Dirty dealing? Yes, but pay back is a bitch!!

  27. END THE PROGRAM NOW. It’s NOT SAFE to ride a bike in WEST HOLLYWOOD, let alone drive. Just yesterday I saw a woman texting and swerving between 2 lanes. A major sponsor should have been lined up BEFORE the program was put into action. This is a perfect example of “feel good” government trying to justify their high salaries and huge expenses for on fancy facilities we don’t need. I love the idea of bike riding but it’s TOO EXPENSIVE and TOO DANGEROUS.

    1. Neither have I seen anyone riding one of the city bikes. HOWEVER, I did see two fit men and a large truck in front OF TENDER GREENS BIKE STATION. They were.doing.a swap out (I think) of all the Bikes in That Bike Station …WITH ALL NEW BIKES from their large truck/van thing.

      I remember, because they seemed to have started a full (safe like) check of every part – wheels, tire pressure, seat, chain before I got there and walked by. I say that, because all the Bikes were there, there was almost a reflective shine from hitting clearly BRAND NEW NEVER USED BIKES (I say never used, because simple use gets the bike a full coat of invisible.dust always in the air, collecting on the bike riding thru.

      IN SUM, THEY KNEW THE BIKES WERE NEW AND UNUSED, BUT HAD TO DO A FULL CHECK. They did a few body motions on a few bikes kinda like tire check, wiggle handle bars etc.. As I watch and looked back, they were removing these new unused bikes, with brand new Identical bikes in their customized bike truck/van. Nobody is using in the biked, yet the salaried maintenance staff & fancy bike van just went through the motions & swapped out bikes they knew hadn’t been used EVER and didn’t need to be swapped out.

  28. I am an avid bike fan. That said, my biggest problem with this program was the scale of the initial rollout and why they added so many bikes all at once without testing the waters first. They could have come to this conclusion with a limited rollout and less than half the number of bikes at each location.

  29. Anyone know if the city still is paying bike rental store Hikes and Bikes LA for bike rentals for use by city employees?

    Per https://www.wehoville.com/2015/02/09/real-estate-interests-town-donors-dominate-weho-city-council-race/ :

    Bikes and Hikes and its owner, Danny Roman, gave $500 each to [John] D’Amico and [John] Heilman. At its Dec. 15 [2014] meeting, the Council appropriated $46,000 to Bikes and Hikes to provide 10 bicycles to city employees. Only Councilmember John Duran recused himself from that vote, noting that he had received a contribution from Roman for his L.A. County supervisor campaign.

  30. Everyone I speak to who’s interested says it’s too expensive. It’d be interesting to see what would happen if they lowered the cost and potentially did more volume. Obviously there’s only so many units though, so that’s somewhat tricky.

  31. I suppose that anti-bike people will now chime in, saying things like “we should have less bikes on our streets,” or “cyclists are dangerous.”

    My only issues with the bike share system is that helmets are not provided, and $7 an hour seems a little steep (one could Uber from one end of West Hollywood to the other, for less than that, sometimes). I’m not sure if there is a sanitary way for them to offer helmets (maybe include helmet liners or something?).

    This system is a work in progress, and I hope it becomes sustainable. It keeps some vehicles off our streets, which is good for the environment and the reduction of traffic congestion.

  32. This is a bigger joke than the WEHO City Hall garage. Of course no one in their right minds would ride a bicycle down Fountain unless it was a death wish. You talk about a city with delusions this is it. Why doesn’t WEHO sell this failed project to Venice or some place by the beach?

  33. This program is a pipe dream. Bike Sharing is not practical in this region for what should be obvious reasons. The cost does not equal the benefit to a handful of people. I’d be curious to know how many yearly subscribers renew once they realize that they can buy a bicycle at Target for $99.

    Operations agreements with Santa Monica is another fantasy. Anyone that would take these heavy bicycles for an 8 mile ride to Santa Monica is a very special person.

    Before anyone says it…..No, we’re not like NYC, SF or worse, Amsterdam!……and shouldn’t aspire to be like them.

    This program isn’t worth it…..I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin.

  34. It was an utter waste from day 1, if a valiant effort. Shut it down and stop wasting city resources. There is simply too much traffic here to make bicycles a viable form if transit and that was clear at the outset.

  35. Incredulous! EVERYONE appears to have had their hand out in this nutty scenario from the consultants that evidently dreamt up the plan to every facilitator along the way.

    One thing seems evident: the public is apparently smart enough to recognize how dangerous this is regardless of all the fancy contrived technology and hype. What sponsor will likely accept any tangential potential liability? Next will we see the Wehoans do an “advertorial” on how much fun it is to risk your neck on a bright shiny bike while dodging distracted drivers, busses and tour vehicles?

    A revenue bridge to nowhere. Let the spinning continue!

  36. Not a big surprise. There are far too many bikes for the limited number of people who want to take their life into their hands by riding them on our busy city streets. It would be more appealing if there were somewhere safe or fun to ride them.

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