Long Beach Says Hello to New Expressways… for Bikes

Recently the Long Beach City Council agreed to partner with Miami-based Decobike to implement NY State’s first bike share program. While it is a shame that the roll-out is expected to happen this fall — rather than during the high season of the summer — I am looking forward to seeing how the program develops. In addition to providing 400 bicycles to be dispersed among 20-30 solar-powered kiosks throughout the city, including the Long Beach LIRR station, Long Beach will also be creating new bike lanes to help facilitate the launch. It is reported that Decobike will be putting $1 million into the project, as well as paying for the costs of installing the new bike lanes over the next year.

Of course, it will be interesting to observe how the gas-guzzling tendencies of the locals will be balanced by the new initiative. Will the initial push to get the program off the ground be enough to sustain it until next summer when we will really be able to judge its success? Will its success be dependent on city-dwelling beach-goers in town for the weekend, or will Long Beach’s residents truly adopt the program and begin to change their habits? Most importantly, will this initiative be a litmus test for how similar programs will work in other locations throughout the state, including NYC?

I patiently wait for the day that a bike share program is available in the city. Janette Sadik-Khan hinted that we are close in her recent article in Slate (“Bridge-and-Tunnel Vision,” 08.08.11). And if both initiatives prove to be worth the investment, I hope it signals a much needed new phase in urban planning statewide.