Pictured Above: Zagster will be providing the bicycles for the pilot program.

Hampton Bays will be the beneficiary later this summer of a Suffolk County pilot bikeshare program that includes the hopping South Shore downtowns of Patchogue and Babylon.

The program is similar to New York City’s Citibike, where bicycle docking stations are placed at several locations throughout the city, and can be unlocked for use via a cell phone app. 

Southampton Town plans to provide bicycle docking stations at the Hampton Bays post office, which is across the street from the Hampton Bays Long Island Rail Road station; at Good Ground Park; and at three locations along Dune Road — at the town’s Tiana Bayside marine station, at Ponquogue Beach, and at a Town Trustee road known as Road H adjacent to the west side of the Shinnecock Inlet.

The Town Trustees are expected to vote on allowing the docking station at Road H at their Aug. 5 meeting.

The bikeshare program will be administered by a nationwide company called Zagster, which runs 250 programs across the country, including in the city of Rochester, said Jonathan Keyes, Suffolk County’s Director of Downtown and Transit Oriented Development, at a July 18 presentation at a Southampton Town Board work session.

Bethpage Federal Credit Union is sponsoring the program, and users of the bicycles would pay a small fee through the cell phone app of $1 per 15 minutes, or $10 per month or $60 per year. People who have EBT cards would also be able to receive a discounted rate.

The pilot program is slated to last for two years.

Mr. Keyes said the towns chosen for the pilot program are all along the same Long Island Rail Road line.

“I live in Patchogue, and I can see myself walking to the Patchogue train station and taking the train to Hampton Bays and biking to the beach,” he said. 

Town board members said they would like to see the pilot extended to Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays, where the town is planning to do some improvements.

Southampton Director of Intermodal Transportation Tom Neely said Zagster actively tracks where the bikes are taken through a GPS tracker, to see which locations see the most utilization.

Mr. Keyes added that workers will be making sure the batteries on the GPS and locking mechanisms on the bicycles are charged, the tires are inflated and they are in good working order, and will be repositioning the bicycles several times a week if too many of them end up in one place. The bikes have five speeds and a light.

Board members said they want to make sure local bike shops are involved in the effort. Mr. Neely said he’d had some conversations with bike shop owners in the past in which “there was a hint of excitement because a cultural change is occurring. Anything that gets people on bikes helps.”

Southampton Town also recently received a $750,000 grant for a bike trail in Hampton Bays.

“Now we’re going to keep our highway superintendent busy painting bike lanes, right?” asked Councilman John Bouvier.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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