By Naeisha Rose
The dockless bike sharing initiative for the outer boroughs kicked off in the Rockaways last week with cycles being provided by Pace and Lime, two mobile bike rental companies.
The mayor, executives of the bike sharing companies and elected officials made the announcement July 13 along the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.
“Bringing New York City’s first-ever dockless bicycles pilot program to the Rockaways will have a major positive impact on the entire peninsula,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) “By giving people the option to rent bicycles, DOT has made an effort to allow people a great way to access the Rockaways and for individuals to further enjoy what the peninsula has to offer, while also getting more cars off the road.”
The city Department of Transportation manages the pilot bike share program. Since Lime and Pace’s coverage area in the Rockaways is outside Citi Bike’s territory, which is largely in Manhattan, northwest Queens, and northwest and northeast Brooklyn, the DOT is not violating its contract with the station-based bike sharing company.
“At 10 miles long, the Rockaway Peninsula offers tremendous opportunities – for sun, recreation, delicious food and so much more – but distances are often just too long to walk. With a dockless bike, the miles from Jacob Riis Park to the A train or from the NYC Ferry dock to one of many great restaurants will seem so much more conquerable and fun,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
Both Lime and Pace have priced their rental bikes on their app for $1 per 30-minute ride, according to the mayor’s office. Lime has also offered pedal-assist bikes for $1 to unlock and $15 cents a minute thereafter.
“Dockless bikes to the Rockaways is a welcome addition to our beautiful boardwalk, offering an affordable and accessible transportation option for the community. Pilot testing this first wave of bikes will provide valuable insight, hopefully leading to the full implementation of this emerging technology,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica).
Lime offered 100 regular bikes for the beginning of the program and will be offering 100 pedal-assist bikes at the end of the month, according to the mayor’s office. A court ruling made last month allowed the usage of pedal-assist bikes after July 28.
Pedal-assist bikes contain a rechargeable battery that can be used to travel longer distances than regular bicycles and help cyclists go up steep hills because of a power boost. They have become one of the fastest growing and environmentally sound modes of urban travel in the United States and the world, and are often used by older riders.
Last week Pace provided 50 bikes and will offer an additional 200 by the end of this week, according to the mayor’s office.
Customers in the Rockaways must keep their rides within the peninsula and are being asked by the city to park the bikes in safe and accessible locations, like bike racks on a sidewalk in line with other street furniture and not on the boardwalk, intersections, doorways, ramps, driveways or in the middle of sidewalks.
During the pilot program, the DOT will carefully evaluate whether the companies participating in the initiative comply with requirements around data accessibility and user privacy, and it will evaluate the safety, availability and durability of the bikes.
If all goes well with the four-month appraisal period, the DOT may consider expanding its dockless bicycles to other geographic areas without bike-sharing programs.
“Residents and visitors alike will now find the Rockaways’ world class beaches, restaurants and other attractions more accessible than ever,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose