Kiosk Permitting Challenges Delay Long Beach’s Bike Nation Sharing Program

Now five months past a planned February launch, Tustin-based Bike Nation says the permitting process for kiosks has  been the main source of delay in Long Beach’s much-anticipated bike sharing program.

After the successful launch of Citibikes in New York City and the news from the L.A. Times that Bike Nation was indefinitely delaying L.A.’s bikeshare launch, many questions arose regarding whether a similar program in Long Beach would finally become a reality after being approved by City Council last August.

Bike Nation offers its kiosks and proprietary rental bikes free of charge to cities and sells advertising at its kiosks to help buffer costs. In L.A., the City’s ongoing contract with two media firms, CBS Outdoor and JCDecaux, made that plan impossible. 

But this is not the snag that ha been hit in Long Beach’s own program, which was supposed to have its first kiosk installed Downtown in February. Bike Nation COO Derek Fretheim said that within Long Beach, the company has full sponsorship and advertising rights.

{loadposition latestnews}”That will not be an issue whatsoever in Long Beach,” Fretheim said. “However, though we have signed a contract with the City, the permitting process is what remains our most time-consuming challenge and we are working directly with the City to solve this matter.”

According to Fretheim, each of the proposed 250 kiosks will have to obtain an individual permit and given that not all permits may be approved, Bike Nation will be seeking some 350 to 375 permits to ensure that 250 kiosks do indeed operate in Long Beach.

Even further, many of the proposed locations cannot run exclusively on solar power, the initial proposal set forth by Bike Nation. This is leading them to explore locations that run on the City’s power grid, which in turn requires a different permitting process.

“To clarify, Bike Nation is happy with both Los Angeles and Long Beach,” Fretheim emphasized. “In fact, we couldn’t be happier with Long Beach since they are in the process of developing a one-stop, cost-free permit process that will hopefully get us up and rolling.”

As to when, Fretheim was hesitant to answer specifically but assures that, under contract, they will follow through. Bike Nation is currently up and running in Fullerton.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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