The Long Beach Press Telegram reported last month about the exciting plans to have a bike-share program operating in the city by this Spring. The initial plan calls for over 500 bikes to be dispensed from solar-powered kiosks throughout downtown and Cal State Long Beach. If the program proves successful, many more kiosks (and bikes) will be placed all around town to complete the network. Long Beach officials are deciding between Montreal-based BIXI and Denver-based B-Cycle.
Bike -Shares have proven to be very popular in many of Europe’s metropolises; Paris’ system has grown to include over 20,000 bikes serving the urban core as well as the surrounding suburbs. Within the states, however, it is the mid-size cities that have championed for bike-share programs. Minneapolis, Denver, and Des Moines have already commenced programs.
Exact locations and pricing for Long Beach’s system will be announced once the city picks which company to work with. While both programs look promising, B-Cycle’s association with advertising agency giant CP+B (whose client list includes artery-clogging Burger King & Dominos PIzza) has me questioning their motives. Washington D.C.’s unsuccessful first stab at bike-sharing was the result of a partnership with Clear Channel Communication, which put a greater emphasis on the advertising space on bikes instead of creating a viable transportation alternative. Thankfully for D.C bikers, the city announced that they are replacing that system in favor of a much larger network (to be operated my BIXI)
Regardless, I am very optimistic for the future of bikes in Long Beach. The city is part of a larger, federally-funded program with neighboring Los Angeles and Hollywood to help make these cities “Integrative Mobility Hubs.” Federal funds have helped the city implement many bicycle infrastructural improvements, such as the Vista St. Bike Boulevard. As Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal put it “Cycling can be everyone’s mode of transportation in a city like this. We’re getting there, and we’re not going to stop.”