Pictured Above: Bethpage Ride bicycles are available at Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays.
Long Island’s Fifth Annual Car Free Day is this Friday, Sept. 20, and for the first time, an East End municipality has pledged its support for the day, which is designed to help Long Islanders rethink their transportation habits.
A new Suffolk County-sponsored bikeshare program in Hampton Bays, Patchogue and Babylon is also offering a free try-out of its system in celebration of the day.
Car Free Day is an international event celebrated every September in which people are encouraged to get around without cars and instead ride a train, bus, bicycle, carpool, subway or walk.
The Southampton Town Board recently passed a resolution pledging to support Car Free Day, as Southampton is in the midst of promoting a series of new trains for South Fork commuters in conjunction with the Long Island Rail Road and East Hampton Town, and has just launched a new bikeshare program in Hampton Bays.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, bikeshare infrastructure provider Zagster and Bethpage Federal Credit Union officially launched Suffolk County’s regional Bike Share program on Monday, Sept. 16.
The program, called Bethpage Ride for the credit union that provided the sponsorship, is available in Hampton Bays, Patchogue and Babylon, all along the Montauk branch of the Long Island Rail Road.
In Hampton Bays, the bikes can be found at docking stations at Good Ground Park, by the Post Office downtown, at Tiana Beach, Ponquogue Beach and on the west side of the Shinnecock Inlet at Dune Road.
Riders can access the bikes through a smartphone app called Pace, which unlocks the bikes through a Bluetooth signal.
Riders can pay $1 per 15 minutes, but can also opt for a monthly plan for $10 or a yearly plan for $60 per year. Both plans allow for unlimited trips of up to 30 minutes.
College students who are 18 years old or older,and EBT recipients have the option to receive half-off pricing, and users can pay through major credit cards, Paypal, or by using cash through “Paypal CASH” at participating locations.
Riverhead Town also announced this week that it will be participating in the bikeshare program.
At Monday’s unveiling of the program, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that, using the promo code ridecarfree60, riders will be able to receive a 60-minute free ride to try the system through the end of this year.
“Bike Share is here and ready to change the landscape of mobility and transportation in Suffolk,” said Mr. Bellone in a statement accompanying the kickoff. “We are effectively extending the reach of our existing transit system, and once out of reach locations are now within easy biking distance.”
“Biking is a great way to get around the community and get exercise at the same time,” agreed Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “We also get the added benefits of less traffic, less air pollution and less use of fossil fuels.”
In addition to the Hampton Bays docking stations, riders can find docking stations in Patchogue at the Patchogue LIRR Station, Blue Point Brewery, the Patchogue Theater Alley, Roe Walkway, Davis Park Ferry and Mascot Dock.
Locations in Babylon include the Babylon LIRR Station, the Babylon Village Pool, Argyle Park/Carlston Place, Locust Avenue, Park Avenue and Totten Place.
The locations of the docking stations can be found in the Pace app, along with the current number of bicycles at each docking station. Riders can return the bikes to any docking station, or they can leave them locked in a safe location when they terminate the ride on the app for a $2 additional fee.
In addition to the bikeshare program, the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning is currently working to develop a county-wide Hike-Bike Network Master Plan for improving hike-bike infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
The plan will include a connected network of hiking and biking trails county-wide, and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.