Gaucho Rides Brings Bike Sharing to UCSB

Bike sharing may pose an alternative to bike ownership around campus. (Photo by Dominick Ojeda / Staff Photographer)

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer

Over the course of the past two years, the UCSB Department of Sustainability has undergone efforts to assist members of the community in transportation by collaborating with a variety of local organizations to organize bike sharing.

A program called Gaucho Rides was announced by the Department of Sustainability and operates exclusively at UCSB as of the 2015-16 school year. This program facilitates the acquisition of shared bikes for staff of participating departments of the university. Bike sharing is a system in which users may use bicycles on a short-term borrowing basis for a certain immediate or subscription-style price.

Gaucho Rides operates through a voucher system. Interested departments are able to find the necessary forms to sign up through the UCSB Sustainability website. Participation in the bikeshare program requires agreement to a set of rules, including limiting the use of these bikes to the UCSB campus and Isla Vista, and specifically limiting use to “employees engaged in activities within the course and scope of their employment.”

The Gaucho Rides program includes several measures to ensure user safety when using shared bikes. For example, program bicycles are required to have reflectors installed for use to be limited to daylight hours, and for maintenance to be performed. This required maintenance is the responsibility of participating departments, and they may use voucher funds to pay for it if they use the services of the AS Bike Shop. The vouchers provided by Gaucho Rides may also be used to purchase locks, air pumps, and helmets for use with the shared bikes in order to maximize safe use.

According to Mo Lovegreen, Director of Campus Sustainability, UCSB is collaborating with other local organizations toward a larger South Coast Bike Share program. This program is organized in collaboration with the County of Santa Barbara, the City of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Waterfront, the City of Goleta, SBCAG, MTD, the SBCC Foundation, and the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. Residents have already spotted program bicycles in the greater Santa Barbara area.

Lovegreen also explained that participating organizations are not negatively impacted at all by their alliance to this bikeshare project. “This is a no-cost program to the partnership agencies as the costs are carried by the rider and sponsorships,” said Lovegreen. According to a 2017 feasibility report on the South Coast Bike Share program, a year-long membership will cost riders $100 and a short-term either 24 or 72 hour membership will cost riders an average of $5.

Organizations specific to Isla Vista may be joining this program soon. “We recently approached the IVCSD to see if they would partner with us and got positive signals,” said Lovegreen. “This week we are approaching the IV Recreation and Parks to see if they would join as well.”

The logistics of the bike share program are innovative, as they do not require the complex equipment associated with similar programs which have been implemented elsewhere. “These are generation four bikes with all the technology on-board, so no docking stations are required,” said Lovegreen. According to Lovegreen, generation four bikes include features such as GPS tracking and compatibility with an app for checking the bikes out to use.