Bike Sharing Pitched on the North Fork
Pictured Above: Pedal Share bikes at EPCAL in Riverhead Town, which has become the most-used location of the service in Suffolk County.
Pedal Share, the Suffolk County bike sharing program that is spreading across the county and may soon expand to Nassau, could be coming to locations in Southold Town as well.
The company, which began serving Southampton Village in 2018, took over the county’s bike sharing program in 2020, with locations in Hampton Bays, Bridgehampton, Riverhead, Patchogue, Huntington and Babylon. Riverhead has proved to be their most-used location.
The program is funded by sponsorship from Bethpage Federal Credit Union and branded as Bethpage Ride in most areas, though other sponsors could sign on as the program grows.
“We’re looking at mobility as a service, in the shift away from personally owned modes of transportation,” Pedal Share founder Chris Dimon told the Southold Town Board at its Nov. 16 work session. “This is great for the first and last mile (of travel), to promote bicycle safety and local laws, and is eco-friendly.”
Mr. Dimon said his company would need to find a sponsor for the Southold bikes if the town gives the program permission to expand there.
The program is powered by an app called Bloom, which allows cell phone users to unlock the bicycles using a QR code. Fees range from $4 per hour to $35 per day or an annual membership of $59.
Mr. Dimon said his company is interested in locating the bicycles at both municipally owned and private locations throughout town, including railroad stations, hamlet centers and beaches, including Kenney’s Beach and the Horton Point Lighthouse in Southold.
“Nothing is locked in. This becomes a collaborative effort, a public-private partnership,” said Mr. Dimon, who added that his company is working on a pilot program with the MTA to put bike docking stations on MTA property at Long Island Rail Road stations on the East End.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell expressed some reservations about the project, saying the town code doesn’t permit transient businesses that don’t have storefronts, and that the town would need to put a bike sharing program out to a bid in case other businesses were interested in the contract.
“I think we have to extend that opportunity to everybody,” said Mr. Russell.
Mr. Dimon said Pedal Share had already won a contract for the program from Suffolk County, which is making bike sharing available to towns through a shared service agreement.
“They’re looking to make it a singular program throughout the county, so the users don’t have to sign up for multiple programs,” he said.
Board members also expressed concern that people might park their cars at beaches and then ride the bikes, exacerbating beach parking issues throughout town.
“The bigger idea is the Transportation Commission is trying to encourage bike riding in town,” said Councilwoman Sarah Nappa, who serves as liaison to the town’s Transportation Commission. “We had more than 30 people at a forum last week, mostly avid bikers, and we talked about Pedal Share there. The idea does fit into a large goal of making it so there are more bikes in Southold.”
Transportation Commission member Randy Wade added that her brother had enjoyed riding a Citi Bike in New York City so much that he’d gone out and bought a bike.
“There is a synergy between bike shops and bike sharing,” she said. —BHY