A bike-share program scheduled to launch this month in North County San Diego has been delayed due to manufacturing and shipping problems blamed on escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
Gotcha Ride, LLC was expected to provide 300 to 400 three-speed dockless bicycles to the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas next month for the start of a pilot program that would then expand to Carlsbad and Oceanside.
But, a manufacturing delay in China has put a wrench in the launch.
"It certainly won’t be this summer," Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear wrote in a post on her website. "This is a major disappointment that is directly linked to the U.S. President’s trade war."
Encinitas spokesperson Paul Bencick said the Chinese government informed Gotcha that the suppliers of their bike parts were delaying manufacturing and shipping the parts because of the U.S.-China trade war.
A spokesperson for the bike-share company also said tariffs, as well as technical difficulties with their hardware and software, were to blame.
Tensions in the trade war rose higher last week when Trump abruptly announced that starting Sept. 1, he would impose tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports he so far has spared. China struck back by halting purchases of U.S. farm products and deflating the value of the yuan.
Bencick said the cities met with Gotcha to come up with an alternate plan that may include finding different suppliers.
The city has already been working out the program's details for more than a year. Gotcha has already dispatched two team members to San Diego County and hired a third to help launch the program, though other hirings have been delayed.
For the start of the pilot program, about 12 bike stations were to be installed in the city of Del Mar, three at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The pilot program was also meant to explore if dockless scooters could become a part of North County's mobility plans.
Del Mar chose Gotcha because they best fit six areas of criteria, according to the city's staff report: experience, approach, availability, capability to perform, relevant experience and innovation.