North Long Beach will soon get 80 new public bikes for the community to enjoy.
The city will expand its Long Beach Bike Share program over the next two weeks, officials said recently, bringing 60 new bicycles to uptown today, Thursday, Nov. 21; 20 more will arrive a week later. A party to celebrate the occasion is set for the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library — one of the new hubs.
The bike-share program, launched in 2016, allows residents and visitors to rent and return the two-wheelers from hubs all over the city. The program costs riders, who use a smartphone app to operate the bikes, $7 for an hour or $21 for three hours, according to the city; monthly and annual plans are also available.
“The expansion is great because uptown is about 40 percent of the city’s population,” said City Councilman Rex Richardson, who represents the Ninth District in North Long Beach. When the program first rolled out, only the coastal and downtown areas had access, he added.
The program stayed south until the city got a new bike operator earlier this year, said Jennifer Carey, executive assistant for the city’s Public Works Department. Pedal Movement, the new operating company, had been cleaning the bikes, refilling tires and handling all other maintenance on a month-to-month basis before becoming the new permanent operator in January, she added. It’s unclear when the previous operator — CycleHop, according to city documents — left.
The two-year contract with Pedal Movement will cost the city about $1.3 million annually, according to a January staff report; but, that report said, future bike fees and membership dues, as well as ad revenue, will help offset the costs.
The program has about 40,000 members right now, Carey said, with new users flowing in steadily since the initial roll out. Users have taken about 223,000 trips, averaging 13 minutes each, since 2016, Carey said by email.
The city, Carey added, expects membership to increase further as the service area expands, especially when North Long Beach gets its fleet. Long Beach, though, cannot yet project how the new uptown hubs will change the program’s ridership, Carey said, or how membership in the area will compare to other parts of the city.
“We really encourage people using more active transportation,” she said.
The expansion will arrive near the one-year anniversary of the Daisy/Myrtle Bicycle Boulevard, the city’s first dedicated north-to-south bike path, which opened in December 2018 and runs from downtown to uptown.
The two are part of the same mission: Spreading Long Beach’s bicycle network citywide, Carey said, has always been the plan. Adding uptown to the service area is just phase one of a citywide expansion, she added.
Long Beach operates 472 bikes, Carey said, but the city wants to double the fleet within six months and reach 1,000 bikes by the middle of next year. Long Beach is also looking to add electric bikes to the program over the next six months, she added. Public Works will ask for City Council’s permission to buy the new bikes in the next couple of months.
The city will begin installing 10 new hubs Monday, Nov. 18, Carey said. They will be at:
Artesia Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue; Harding Street and Atlantic Avenue; Michelle Obama Library; Orange Avenue and Market Street; Atlantic Avenue and 52nd Street; San Antonio Drive and Atlantic Avenue; Bixby Road and Atlantic Avenue; Wardlow Road and Pacific Avenue; and Willow Street and Daisy Avenue.
Long Beach already has hubs at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Belmont Pier, Cal State Long Beach, multiple Blue Line stations and various intersections around the city, according to its website.
Long Beach Bike Share is fully funded by Metro’s Prop A transportation bond, Carey said. The city is looking for a sponsor to brand the bikes and pay for the program long-term.
The Uptown launch will be at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov.21, at the library, 5870 Atlantic Ave. Richardson said there will be giveaways and Bike Share program promotions for attendees as part of the kick-off event.