Image courtesy of Social Bicycles.
At a Bike Long Beach Roundtable Meeting at the new Hub Bike Center in Houghton Park Wednesday evening, hosted by Danny Gamboa and Bike Uptown, the city’s Active Transportation Coordinator Nathan Baird announced that Long Beach will likely see its first bike share system in operation this spring.
Long Beach, along with Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and UCLA, will be using the same vendor as Santa Monica, whose bike share program launched in November 2015 and remains in development. CycleHop, powered with equipment and technology by Social Bicycles, also known as SoBi, will run the city’s program set to be called Long Beach Bike Share.
Baird told the Post that the bike share operating contract for CycleHop has yet to be approved by city council. If and when approval is received, the program would be deployed on a rolling basis, with the first 10 kiosks and 100 bikes set to be operational by spring in conjunction with Beach Streets, and the full deployment of 50 kiosks and 500 bikes in operation by this summer.
This is great news for “the most bicycle-friendly city in America,” especially following the failed implementation of Bike Nation’s bike share system in Long Beach about two years prior. This program seeks to better connect the routes of public transportation or taxi users, give visitors an easy way to move about the city and make minor daily trips easier for everyone.
“It makes for very flexible mobility, especially in tandem with transit or with the various Lyft and Uber providers and Yellow Cab,” said Baird. “It gives you a lot of flexibility as you get around the city and it helps to make it easier for people to not have to own a car, or to rely on just one car.”
Users will have the ability to walk up to a station and sign up onsite, while smartphone users will have a suite of apps at their disposal, including the SoBi mobile app downloadable now. Baird’s plan, however, is for the system to have its own city website and app, as well. Users can use their phones, cards and even just an account number and passcode that can be entered on a keypad on the bike itself. The bikes also come with locks, meaning if you sign up ahead of time, you only need yourself and your passcode to access the service.
But what use is a bike share program without the bicycle-friendly infrastructure to support it? Long Beach has an array of sharrows, bike lanes and protected bike lanes, but there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to better connecting those elements. Baird says that seeing as how Alamitos Avenue will have bikeways added soon, between Seventh Street and Orange Avenue, there are other key corridors that could benefit from improvement and attention. The first citywide Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) outreach meeting will be held on Thursday, April 14 (location and time TBD) to brainstorm said improvements. Visit the BikeLongBeach.org Facebook page here to stay up to date as more details are announced closer to April.
“We know that we need better access to West Long Beach, we know that there are a few gaps in our network,” said Baird. “It’s difficult to get to Cal State Long Beach from downtown. We need further discussion on how to bridge those gaps.”
Baird explained that three to five years ago there was “some movement” on getting the BMP updated with a round of outreach. However, the plan was never finalized or approved by city council. April’s meeting will mark the second attempt to update the plan so the next big project can be, at the least, considered.
“A lot has happened in the last three to five years in the bike/pedestrian world,” said Baird. “So we just want to update it, present it to the public again, and then get in front of council so we have an approved plan, which essentially helps us go after specific grant funds.”
For more information about Long Beach’s Bicycle Master Plan, click here.
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