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How to Use the Bay Wheels Bikeshare for All Program

How to Use the Bay Wheels Bikeshare for All Program

Bikeshare for All offers underserved Bay Area communities access to the Bay Wheels fleet of electric and pedal-powered bikes. Living in the Bay Area is expensive and transportation costs are no exception. The price you pay for getting from here to there can strain a limited budget.


This article will cover everything you need to know about Bikeshare for All, including who is eligible, steps to apply, and how to locate a vehicle.

About Bikeshare for All

A partnership between Bay Wheels, the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), five local participating municipalities, and Lyft-subsidiary Motivate, Bikeshare for All offers free unlimited rides on classic bikes and discounted e-bike rates to those who qualify.

Who is Eligible for Bikeshare for All?

You may be eligible for Bikeshare for All if you have proof that your household qualifies for one or more of the benefits or services listed below.

There is also an option to choose “other state or federal assistance program,” which could mean housing assistance or Pell grants, but the website doesn’t specify. 


How do I sign up for Bikeshare for All?

Visit the Bikeshare for All website and click start an application online, then complete the form and upload a picture of any document from a qualifying agency to prove eligibility. You can also sign up in person at an outreach center.

How to Use Bikeshare for All

Once your application is approved, download the Bay Wheels app and follow the steps below.

Step 1: Find a Bike

Use the app’s map feature to find a classic or e-bike nearby. The numbers that appear on the icons indicate how many bikes are available at that location. The lightning bolts indicate the dock has e-bikes available. Tap an icon to learn how many vehicles are electric and how many are classic bikes.

When you reach one you want to ride, tap Scan, which opens the app’s camera. Now, point it at the vehicle’s QR code to unlock it. 

Step 2: Do a Safety Check

Before you speed off, familiarize yourself with your city’s traditional and e-bike laws. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offers a safety overview and checklist for classic bike riders in the Resources section of its website. Note that many municipalities impose hefty fines for riding on sidewalks.

A helmet is also a good idea, but not legally required for California adults. If you don’t have one, you can sometimes find free or low-cost helmet options. Google to see what’s available in the Bay.

Step 3: Get Going

If you plan to ride an e-bike, check the app to see how much battery power and range is left on the vehicle you choose, and be sure to choose one with enough juice for your journey. Ride a Bikeshare for All e-bike the way you would ride a traditional bike. As you pedal, the electric motor automatically kicks in gradually, giving you a boost up hills. 


Step 4: End Your Ride

Park in an open spot at any Bay Wheels docking station. To find one with vacancies, check the app. When you tap an icon, it shows you how many open spots are available. When the lock-in light turns green, you’re good to go. Leaving the bike outside the service area or locking it to a tree, sign, or private property will incur a $25 fee.

FAQ about Bikeshare for All

Discover answers to frequently asked questions about Bikeshare for All, an initiative to bring affordable pedal-powered and electric bikes to everyone.

Is Bikeshare for All available where I live?

As an initiative of five Bay Area municipalities in partnership with the MTA and Bay Wheels, Bikeshare for All is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How do I sign up for Bikeshare for All in person?

Check the Bikeshare for All website to find the nearest outreach center. As of this writing, they are located in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Jose. When you go, bring a current ID and a copy of your CalFresh card, SFMTA Lifeline card, or PG&E statement listing your participation in the CARE program.

How much does it cost to use Bikeshare for All?

A membership for the first year is $5, and then it’s $5/month after that. No annual commitment is required. A membership includes:

  • Free unlocks (full-price unlocks cost 3.49 each)
  • Unlimited free 60-min classic rides, increasing to $0.13/min after that (full-price rides are $3.49 for 30 minutes and $.30 for every additional minute)
  • $0.05/min e-bike rides, with a maximum of $1/ride (full-price is .30/min)
  • Parking is free at Bay Wheels stations, and costs an extra $2 if you park at a public rack within the service area. 

Do I need a credit or debit card to use Bikeshare for All?

No, unbanked riders can pay with cash at an outreach center and Good Karma Bikes in San Jose.


Are there any limitations or restrictions on using Bikeshare for All benefits?

If your application is approved, there are no restrictions. You can ride as often as you’d like.

Relief Recap

If you’re looking for affordable and sustainable transportation, the sun on your face, and a breeze in your hair, try taking a Bikeshare for All vehicle for a spin! If you’ve got too much to carry on two wheels, share the information here with friends or family who might benefit.