Long Beach unveiled its new Bike Share program Thursday, beginning with two bike share stations opening in the city's downtown. The plan is to expand that to 10 stations and up to 100 bikes when the city kicks off its Beach Streets Downtown event on Saturday, March 19.
Once the Long Beach Bike Share program is fully implemented it will include 50 stations and 500 bikes, covering an area south of the PCH and stretching from the L.A. River to the San Gabriel River.
The city plans to offer rates by the minute, with daily plans, bulk minute plans, monthly plans for commuters and locals who use the service regularly, along with annual plans for institutions, Long Beach Mobility and Healthy Living Programs Officer Nate Baird told KPCC.
Long Beach is trying to make their city more walkable and bike friendly, Baird said.
"We see bike shares as just one more part of our attempt to be the most bike-friendly city in the nation, and I think it really helps us get a step closer to that," Baird said.
The idea: Help people with the first mile and the last mile of their trips, working in combination with things like the Metro Blue Line. The system is meant to help both Long Beach residents and visitors alike.
"In an urban area, a bike really is a great way to get around, and we're working really hard in Long Beach to make it a really easy choice for people. And it's definitely, you know, the funnest choice, in my opinion," Baird said.
The city is making other efforts to be bike friendly, such as separated bike lanes downtown, bike boulevards and an 8-and-a-half-mile bike lane on Pacific Avenue from downtown Long Beach to uptown that's being added.
Long Beach Bike Share is being paid for with a $2.3 million grant from L.A. County Metro. The city also put in $565,000 to purchase the bicycles, with ongoing operation of the system managed by CycleHop at no cost to the city. CycleHop also runs the Santa Monica Bike Share program, but Long Beach is the first Southern California city to use the no-cost model, according to the city.
"They'll be making their revenue from advertising and sponsorship, and we at the city get a really great service for our stakeholders and residents," Baird said.
Bikers will be able to return their bike to the stations — or, for a $2 fee, they can leave the bike on any public bike rack in the bike share system's area.
People will be able to start signing up for the program starting March 19 at the Beach Streets Downtown event, or online, Baird said. Signing up in person will require a phone app, though kiosks are set to be rolled out by mid-summer, making it possible to get walkup memberships.
Baird touted the benefits of biking for both air quality and bikers' health — as well as not having to worry about parking. He also touted the strength of Long Beach as a bike location, thanks to good weather and streets that are mostly flat.
"We definitely have a car culture here in Southern California," Baird said, "[but] biking, walking really are the easiest, fastest ways to get around, and we just really want to encourage that."
Several bike-oriented businesses have launched in Long Beach thanks to the city's bike-friendliness, Baird said.
The program is being created in collaboration with bicycle advocates and city leadership.
You can find out more about the program and sign up starting March 19 at LongBeachBikeShare.com.