Bike Share Storms the Suburbs in Simsbury and Long Beach

While New York City residents eagerly await the unveiling of the preferred operator for what will eventually be the largest bike share program in the country, two municipalities in the tri-state region are moving forward on their own versions of bike share programs.

On Long Island, the Long Beach City Council recently endorsed a partnership with Miami-based Decobike to implement a 400-bicycle program that would open in the fall, making it, to our knowledge, the first municipal-run bike share in the state.  Decobike will operate the system at no cost to the city, set up 20-30 kiosks throughout the city, including at the Long Beach LIRR station, the Martin Luther King Community Center, and possibly along the medians of several residential areas.

As part of the bike share program, Long Beach will also create additional bicycle infrastructure, fostering a safer biking environment that is sorely lacking throughout much of Long Island.

The Town of Simsbury, Connecticut, named a “Bicycle Friendly Community” in 2010 by the League of American Bicyclists, has recently launched a Simsbury Free Bike initiative where, for $10 and an identification, individuals can rent bicycles for a 24 hour period.  Simsbury Free Bike is an initiative that includes local businesses, cycling enthusiasts and a non-profit that works to provide bikes to the disabled, and its bicycles were donated by community members.  The bicycles for the program have been painted blue and have the Simsbury Free Bike logo affixed to all the bicycles.  The rental fee includes a bell, basket, helmet, lock and trail map along with information on safety tips and cycling etiquette. Unlike traditional bike share programs, this program, rather than having numerous kiosk stations, will be housed at Andy’s Supermarket and can be rented from its courtesy desk.

While a New York City bicycle sharing program could potentially revolutionize bicycle sharing in the United States, it is heartening to see municipalities from throughout the region adopt bike share programs that work for their communities.  Hopefully, more communities will look to bike share programs as a way to provide greater transportation choice and as a way to reduce congestion as the region moves towards a more smart-growth oriented future.

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