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Analysis: Earlier this week, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced a plan to bring bike-sharing to San Diego and promised the program wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. It would be funded solely by private investors.
Bike sharing has been one way that cities try to increase public transit options. Cities set up unmanned bicycle stations around town. Then people pay membership or flat rates to rent bikes.
One challenge, especially for cash-strapped cities like San Diego, has been funding the programs. Spending part of the city’s budget on a new bike program would mean diverting money from other services like libraries, parks and police.
Sanders says San Diego could pioneer a privately funded program. During a Sept. 19 interview on Fox 5’s morning show, he made a bold claim about how his proposal stacks up against what other cities have done.
“We’ll be the first city that actually doesn’t subsidize it. In other cities they pay for it,” Sanders said.
We decided to Fact Check the comparison because Sanders’ cited it to bolster his plan. Bike-sharing has been spreading across urban areas for years. Would cash-strapped San Diego be the first to not provide public subsidies?
No, we found. The mayor was mistaken.
Anaheim launched the first bike-sharing program in California last month and its funding does not include city money. Los Angeles also plans to launch a similar, privately funded program later this year.
Sanders wants bike-sharing to be available in San Diego by next spring — after both Anaheim and Los Angeles have their programs. San Diego wouldn’t be the first to have a privately-funded program.
For that reason, we’ve rated the mayor’s comparison False.
In an email Thursday, mayoral spokesman Darren Pudgil acknowledged the error. He said Sanders’ meant to say San Diego will be one of the first cities that doesn’t subsidize bike-sharing.
The mayor made that point during his press conference about bike-sharing and in a press release sent to reporters, Pudgil said. To our knowledge, Sanders only made the incorrect claim during the Fox 5 interview, which was broadcast across the region.
“I hope that you will not use the mayor’s error to suggest that he is misleading people on this,” Pudgil wrote. “He knows it’s ONE. He simply misspoke.”
Regardless, Sanders’ statement still fits our definition of False. The definition says: “The statement is not accurate. This could be an error or misstatement but it’s simply not true and there is no element of truth to it.”
If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning, too.
For more detail on the mayor’s bike-sharing plan, check out this explainer.
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