By Dave Fidlin
Credit card company sponsors DecoBike, plans expansion
A logo long associated with a credit card giant will begin appearing on bikes placed in San Diego’s multiple rental docks starting in February.
But executives within DecoBike, operator of the city’s bike-share program, and Discover, the new title sponsor, said the arrangement and reworking of the program’s formal name to Discover Bike is more than just a simple cosmetic change.
In the months ahead, the two entities have promised a number of added features, including a new mobile app and software updates with promises of improved bike and equipment tracking capabilities. Neither DecoBike nor Discover has divulged what the increased investment will cost.
The city of San Diego has an exclusive bike-sharing agreement in place with DecoBike that stretches into 2023, so while its name is disappearing from the rented bikes, DecoBike remains at the helm of day-to-day operations.
In a sign of the corporate tie-in, Discover cardmembers also will be privy to a 20 pecent reduction in bike rental and membership costs if the namesake credit card is used to pay for the purchase.
Though specific plans have yet to be announced, the new partnership, which was revealed Jan. 29, also comes with pledges of increasing the bike fleet 20 percent from the current layout, which was first introduced three years ago when the city signed its initial pact with DecoBike.
Vijay Konduru, vice president of media and sponsorships at Discover, said San Diego is the first — and, for the foreseeable future, only — city where the company is sponsoring a bike-share program.
“Right now, we’re focused on this and look forward to engaging with San Diego residents and visitors,” Konduru said.
When asked why Discover wanted to venture into this new category, Konduru said company officials view it as a natural extension of the company’s brand.
“The Discover Bike program will help support local transportation, sustainability and recreation initiatives,” Konduru said. “We’re excited to engage the San Diego market in a new way.”
The name change and added technological features are already taking form and Discover and DecoBike representatives said the stations will bring 200 new bikes and 20 additional docking stations.
A news release announcing the changes described the additions as being targeted “in key locations in the city’s urban core.”
“The specific location of bike station expansions will be determined by DecoBike, in coordination with the city,” Konduru said, adding that the Downtown area and areas along the waterfront are planned.
David Silverman, vice president of operations with DecoBike San Diego, said the review process for the additional bikes is already underway.
“The new sites are pending approval from the city and Port Authority,” Silverman said. “We have submitted locations … and are currently awaiting approval.”
Konduru and Silverman said the timeline for the rollout of the added docking sites has intentionally remained fluid and is expected to take place in multiple phases throughout the year as 2018 progresses.
“The new branding on bikes, stations and other equipment will roll out over the next few weeks,” Konduru said.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer is among the city leaders to go on record in support of the increased investments into DecoBike’s sharing program.
Faulconer specifically singled out environmental practices as a reason he is lauding the new partnership between DecoBike and Discover.
“The actions we take today will make a difference tomorrow,” Faulconer said in a statement when the new sponsorship was announced. “Increasing commuter bicycling opportunities is an important goal of our Climate Action Plan. The concentration of bike-share locations in the urban core will play an important part in the Downtown Mobility Plan, which will enhance bicycle safety and increase ridership.”
For more details, visit decobike.com/sandiego.
—Reach Dave Fidlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.