OPINION: on DECOBIKES (I’m Confused-By-The-Sea)

DECOBIKES. What’s there to say that hasn’t been said already? I don’t know. I am a bit confused over the whole thing. I like the idea, but was it well thought out? Will it work in Long Beach? Of course it will, right? Maybe it won’t. What about our local bike shops? They could of had rental booths on the superblock, but then maybe that wouldn’t of worked unless they had rental booths all over town. Wait, is this bike share system for summer visitors or as a mass transit replacement for all? I’M CONFUSED-BY-THE-SEA!!!

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

  • The City of Long Beach, NY signed a five year deal with DecoBike on December 5th, 2011.
  • The deal calls for 400 bikes at 17 bike kiosks around our City (23.53 bikes per kiosk? what?) Those numbers will most likely change.
  • Those already installed bike-kiosk-cement-slabs in the residential areas will be removed. The city will try to get DecoBike to foot the bill for restoration.
  • Bike lanes are coming.
  • As of now, our three local bike shops are not involved with DecoBike at all.
  • The city hopes to make $500,000 in revenue per year from this deal (10% of $5,000,000).
  • The bikes don’t come with girls in bikinis, high heels and knee-high socks (see photo).

We all have our reasons why we don’t like this Deco-deal: “We don’t need it,” “It’s not going to work,” “Who is going to use it?,” “This person is related to that person who owns the company,” “They aren’t even a good company,”  “I don’t like bikes,” “I don’t like fun,” etc. Well, we’re stuck with Decobike for five years (assuming that they don’t fold). Now that the residential-kiosks ordeal has been sort of settled, I have concluded that my only real concern is with our local bike shops and the impact this deco-deal will have on them.

What about everything else?

MORE BIKE TRAFFIC: I am not worried about that. NYC has been implementing bike-shares in various clusters (Forest Hills, Queens is an example) and seems to be working out just fine. NYC has more people, more bikes, more cars (can you believe that?) and less room. Nothing to be afraid of here in Long Beach, NY. With that being said, I really don’t think out streets are going to be overly crowded with Decobikes (THE LOCUSTS ARE COMING!) To me, that is a NIMBY-fear.

BIKE LANES: I actually want bike lanes and I cannot understand why people get so offended by them. Are they really needed in Long Beach? I believe so. Maybe not on the side streets, but we do on roads where automobiles are constantly breaking the speeding laws and driving through stop signs. Oh wait, that’s every road in Long Beach. Yes, we need bike lanes here. All of our roads are dangerous.

At the East End Long Beach Listens on March 21st, Len Torres (City Council Vice President) said that a street needs at least three feet to accommodate a bike lane. Most of our boulevards, Shore Road and Broadway can accommodate that. My main concern has always been with Park Avenue: How can we make that road safer for cyclists? I have no clue what would work, but I do have some own ideas. Back in July 2011 I did a whole post on that topic (read – Bike Lanes by the Sea).

CHARACTER:  I am probably somewhat alone on this one, but I actually think bike kiosks and bike lanes will give our city a little bit more character: Something is going on around here. We care about the environment. We live a healthy lifestyle. We aren’t a typical Long Island suburb. Wow, this place is so European. I believe this type of character will ultimately attract more people to want to visit and live here (higher house values anyone?).

KIOSK LOCATIONS: The Deco-deal calls for 17 bike kiosks all over Long Beach. And what better place to install them than on our residential streets…… As one resident tells me, “It looks pretty awful and cheesy to say the least. It has taken away from the beauty of the grass and feel of a residential neighborhood.”

(W. Olive Street & Washington Blvd intersection)

Regarding the residential slabs (see picture above): At LONG BEACH LISTENS (March 21st) our City Manager Jack Schnirman seemed puzzled and questioned if a study was even done.

Then again, you have to ask yourself: Maybe that is the only way this system works? Make decobike our mass transit: Flood the city with bikes and kiosks everywhere!  Do I believe that? I actually do… but not for Long Beach, NY. Maybe in an area like say.. um.. Miami?

Fran Adelson (City Council President) said at LONG BEACH LISTENS that all kiosks will be in commercial areas. So does that mean no side streets at all? What about major roads that are surrounded by high rises like on Shore Rd or Broadway? Right now the obvious locations I can think of are the following: Several on the boardwalk, the LIRR, City Hall, Post Office, but where else? What about the West End? Is there any room at all to install a bike kiosk anywhere in the West End? I asked Mary Ellen Pollina of the West End Beautification Association if she had any input on that. Here is what she had to say:

In the early days of deco bike the suggestion was to carve out some space in one of the city -owned parking lots for a kiosk. From the merchants standpoint, the closer to a bar, boutique, coffee shop etc. the better. This will cause an uproar among the “but we’ll lose a parking spot” group because for safety sake and to avoid disrupting pedestrian traffic it would need to take up a pretty big chunk of a parking lot.

The other option is the Welcome to Long beach park between Ohio and Nevada ave. On W Beech Street (photo below).

WHO ARE THESE BIKES FOR ANYWAYS?

Are summer renters the ones who will benefit? Perhaps guests of the Allegria Hotel? Maybe it will be a taxi-replacement for that drunk wanting to go back to the East End from a West End bar at 3am? Maybe for those in high rises not wanting to drag their bike down a flight of stairs or have no room in their small studio apartment to even store one? That Brooklyn hipster off the LIRR because it’s ironic? Maybe JWoww of Franklin Square wanting to come to Long Beach to cruise the boardwalk, but doesn’t want to pack a bike because she might break a nail taking it off her giant cadillac SUV? Or how about that guy with a stolen credit card who wants to “rent” a bike as a momento?

Are residents that live in houses going to use this service? No. It’s not for you (unless you’re that drunk person).

I’m actually going to give the city (past administration) some credit for thinking outside the box. I can’t think of any other Nassau County community that would even consider a bike-sharing program. A year from now those DecoBike kiosks are going to blend into our city landscape, give Long Beach a little bit more character and not really bother us one bit.

Yeah, my feelings are mixed and that’s reflected in this confusing article. I get the whole bike-sharing thing: You rent a bike at one kiosk and have the option to return it at another; it can almost replace a taxi. Of course, I don’t understand why it’s a five year deal. Let’s try it out for a year – see it’s impact on the community and make sure the contract calls for maintenance and repair to be done at our local bike shops. Because the ones who should be making hot air about this deal should be them. All three bike shops setting up a rental booths on the superblock probably could have worked. Not the same way as a share/kiosk system, but probably good enough for Long Beach, NY.

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14 thoughts on “OPINION: on DECOBIKES (I’m Confused-By-The-Sea)”

  1. I like the idea of bike lanes… and somewhat like the idea of having the kiosks. I don’t like that Deco is involved because they are buddies with someone from the previous council. This is something the city could easily manage on their own with the 3 local bike shops supporting (and yes, profiting!).

  2. I’d like to see the contract and find out if LB has an exit clause. My concern is bankrupcty and graffitied kiosks littering our streets but I wish them luck.

  3. I’m not too worried about bankruptcy. This deal apparently doesn’t cost us a dime, so if Deco goes out of business, some other company can always move right in and take over.

    graffitied kiosks are definitely a concern. I wonder if the contract says anything about keeping them look nice and new. I am hoping the city makes the contract public, but i doubt that will happen.

  4. I am not sure another company would be interested as I don’t see the need for such a large scale rental program. I would have liked to have seen the local shops proposals considered (given the opportunity) before this Deco deal was signed.

  5. I’m all for supporting our local business, but the one thing they could not offer is/was the capital needed for both A) the kiosks themselves, and B) more importantly, construction of the bike lanes which, imho, would be a huge upgrade for the city. If this fails miserably and Decco go under, we’ll still be better off because those lanes were contructed.

  6. I have lived in a few cities on the west coast, going back to the late 60s and each had bike lanes. They made the city traffic a bit more careful and were heaven for pedestrians since they no longer shared the sidewalk with bikes (illegal, but face it, it happens.) I think they would be ideal here, with or without bike sharing. Long Beach isn’t that wide, so if there were a few kiosks scattered along the boardwalk – and bike racks at the end of each block, abutting the boardwalk for non-bike sharers then there could be kiosks scattered along Park Ave. Maybe at the ends of the parking lots, the Waldbaums Plaza, the LIRR. It wouldn’t be too far to walk between them. The West End would need dome thought, I can’t see the advantage to eliminating any much needed parking…..I actually can see them being useful to residents having guests, grandparents having kids come visit etc.

  7. I fail to see the great benefit of a couple of white lines painted on the street. Traffic rules are traffic rules and I think they will give riders a false sense of security. Traffic enforcement eg.
    controlling the speed of such is a bigger concern along Park Ave. Maybe we could put officers with radar guns in a bucket truck way up in the air……

  8. Well, right now there isn’t even any ROOM on Park for bikers to bike in the right lane. Bikers have to squeeze in the tiny space between cars in the right lane and parked cars. The point is that bike lanes would allow actual designated space for bikes – 3 feet – more than just a shoulder. This is the same problem that occurs on Lido Boulevard. You can risk your life biking on the shoulder, or you can bike on the unkempt cracked sidewalk. There are so many bikers biking this route, especially during the summer, with zero clearance from cars. In fact, most cars have to move into the middle lane to avoid these bikes.

    People get pissed that bikers bike on the sidewalks on Park, but I would never bike on Park how it’s set up now. I’d rather piss pedestrians off than get killed.

  9. Not sure if deco bike will work… Wish the 3 local guys could have rented on the boards. The best thing about this crazy idea is the bike lanes can’t wait!

  10. @dumfounded – if you’re so inclined, do a little digging on the impact bike lanes have had on calming traffic in communities throughout the world. If done well (which I’m highly skeptical of considering how this process has played out thus far) I think you’ll find they can be a highly affective tool in calming traffic, reducing vehicular speeds and increasing safety on our roads. Just because we can’t solve all our traffic related issues doesn’t mean we should poo poo some sort of incremental progress.

  11. Granted if done correctly,but I don’t see Deco Bike having the wherewithal to properly implement a project that will serve the purpose. Re-engineer Park Ave to 2 lanes with a 30 MPH enforced speed limit and bicyclists might have a chance. Otherwise as I sit here it sounds like Indianapolis Speedway 50 feet from where I sit.

  12. you are probably right about the capital needed. However, the local shops should have been given the opportunity for a proposal and they weren’t.

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