Local representatives gathered Thursday for a kickoff ceremony and brief bike ride to start GoSGV, a regional electric bike-share program designed to be affordable, which was organized by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.

The shared electric bicycles will be available throughout the San Gabriel Valley with an initial 30 bikes placed in South El Monte. The council of governments said GoSGV will expand over the next year to 840 bikes stationed at bike-share hubs in half of the 31 cities and unincorporated communities in the San Gabriel Valley.

“The SGVCOG is delighted to be able to bring affordable and uniform bike sharing to the San Gabriel Valley,” said La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn, who serves as third vice president of the SGVCOG Governing Board. “Interest in bicycling has surged in recent months, with U.S. urban area ridership reported to have increased by 21% during the pandemic. Given this trend, we are prepared to further expand the number of bikes and are open to accepting additional San Gabriel Valley communities into the GoSGV program if demand supports it.”

The SGVCOG said the GoSGV program is supported by a $4.55 million greenhouse-gas reduction grant awarded by the California Transportation Commission in 2017.

The bikes are operated by Gotcha, a national private shared-mobility firm. Users can unlock bikes using the Gotcha app and will be charged $2 to unlock and 10 cents per minute to ride or an annual flat fee of $79.99.

The GoSGV bike share will be expanded later this year to the cities of Baldwin Park, El Monte, Covina, Claremont and Monterey Park as well as unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and the campus of Cal Poly Pomona.

Half the GoSGV bicycles are slated to serve disadvantaged communities, and qualified low-income riders can pay $1 to unlock and 5 cents per minute or an annual flat fee of $5, the council stated.

“We are proud to launch the Gotcha GoSGV bikes as a means of enhancing the quality of life in our community and providing residents with greater connectivity within our city,” South El Monte Mayor Gloria Olmos said. “Also, we are very proud to be the first city in the San Gabriel Valley to achieve this goal and would like to thank the SGVCOG for partnering with us. This new regional bike-share program will give many people an easy and affordable way to ride bikes.”

The electric bicycles are similar to regular bikes, but they have pedal assistance, boosting a rider’s pedaling efforts, making it easier to climb hills, travel longer distances and assist individuals with physical limitations that prevent extended cycling, the council stated.

GoSGV bikes can be returned to stations, or elsewhere for a small fee, and the council said Gotcha is responsible for ensuring that e-bikes are maintained at stations.

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