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June 23, 2021
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Electric bike program comes to Cotati

By: Brandon McCapes
May 14, 2021

Electric bikes will soon be stationed around Cotati for community members and commuters to rent.

At their Tuesday meeting, the Cotati Council moved forward with a resolution that authorizes Bolt Mobility, LLC to operate the shared e-bike program, which Bolt is running in coordination with cities around the SMART corridor.

Senior Planner Jon-Paul Harries gave the council a report on the final iteration of the agreement, which has been in the works for two and a half years, before a unanimous vote adopting the resolution.

The program will be funded by grant money from the San Francisco Bay Area regional transit planning authority the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). In August 2018, MTC awarded the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) a $826,000 Bike Share Capital Program grant for the Marin-Sonoma Bike Share Program.

The program aims to accomplish three main transportation goals: encourage the use of bicycles; close gaps in service for local transit; improve commuting by providing connections for individuals from SMART stations to their destinations.

E-bikes will be clustered in key areas, such as SMART stations, local transit stops and heavily frequented areas. Cyclists will be able to purchase monthly memberships or pay on a pay-as-you-go basis. At the end of their ride, they will be expected to deposit the bikes in 

designated locations for other users to pick up and will be charged a fee if they leave them in an undesignated area.

The City of Cotati will review and approve all station locations, and Bolt employees will routinely pick up abandoned e-bikes in addition to regularly inspecting, maintaining and repairing all equipment.

In response to a question about why, given the urgency of the climate crisis, it took two and a half years for the program to get off the ground since the grant was awarded, Vice Mayor Mark Landman said the complexity of the grants and the complications of 2020 contributed to the length of time needed for the program to be planned.

Other regional cities participating in similar programs include Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Novato and San Rafael, with agencies like Sonoma State University and Sonoma Mountain Village participating under their own individual agreements as well.

Other news:

The Cotati Council received an informational presentation on the Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program out of Eugene, Ore, for possible implementation within the city.

CAHOOTS is a highly successful and widely touted model of non-emergency first response and crisis intervention. Under the CAHOOTS program, started in Eugene in 1989, special units are deployed to certain kinds of calls, such as those related to mental health, substance use and homelessness. The CAHOOTS units are more equipped to deal with these kinds of calls than police and fire.

The units have two staff each—a crisis counselor, who focuses on de-escalation and social work interventions, and an EMT, who rules out physical health needs, provides medical evaluations and leads emergency situations. CAHOOTS carries out functions such as welfare checks when individuals aren’t answering phone calls, have expressed suicidal ideation or are sleeping outdoors. They also de-escalate family disputes, treat minor wounds, and respond to calls of individuals experiencing psychosis and mania, or who are intoxicated.

Responses CAHOOTS facilitates are focused de-escalation and service, rather than criminal justice. CAHOOTS staff may provide supplies to homeless individuals, mediate conflicts, refer individuals to ongoing care, or transport them to staffed services.

The Eugene Police Department estimates that CAHOOTS diverts eight to ten percent of its total calls, and in 2019 only 24 CAHOOTS calls required further police response. CAHOOTS avoids putting individuals on involuntary holds when possible and is cheaper and more flexible than standard first response methods employed by most cities.

In its more than 30 years of operation in Eugene and Springfield, no CAHOOTS staff member has ever been injured on the job.