Come Thursday, Long Beach will have about 265 more bicycles on its streets, each of them bearing the brand name DecoBike.
The Miami-based bike sharing-rental company on Wednesday started to install its two-wheelers at various kiosk stations throughout the city and beyond, from Shore Road at Pacific Boulevard to West Beech Street at Buffalo Avenue in East Atlantic Beach.
“Hopefully we’ll have all the bikes installed in all the locations by tomorrow," said Miles Mule, a Long Beach resident and DecoBike employee who manned the Edwards Boulevard boardwalk kiosk on Wednesday. "And this weekend we’ll have our grand opening."
While DeckoBike’s directory, featured on the credit card-only meters at each kiosk station, shows 16 stations dotting the city, the company plans to subtract one location but add others. “We’re looking to have 17 to 18 kiosk stations in all,” said David Silverman, a manager at DecoBike.
A kiosk that was originally planned for in the Canals neighborhood was nixed, since the facility's 7 p.m. closing time doesn’t comport with the company’s 24-hour service.
A few more kiosks still need to be built, including one on Riverside Boulevard at the and others along West Beech Street. When the program is fully operational by July 4, though, there will be 400 bikes in all, Silverman said.
The rental rates range from $4 for 30 minutes to $24 for eight hours. Long Beach residents can purchase a $20 monthly bike pass for unlimited 30-minute rides. Renters can pay only by credit card at the solar-powered meters.
Although the program was originally slated to start on Memorial Day weekend, it could extend into fall, depending on its success or lack of it this summer. “Weather permitting and depending on the response, the program could go into October and possibly November,” Silverman said.
Richard Chiemienti, a Long Beach resident, will manage the program, operating out of a mobile office located on Edwards Boulevard boardwalk. Bikes will be stored at a warehouse in Baldwin.
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Last summer, the to start and operate the citywide program. The contract includes corporate sponsorship and advertising, and the city will receive 10 percent of the company’s gross revenue and advertising incomes.
The original plan included 40 kiosks spread throughout the city, but in April the city and DecoBike agreed to amend the contract to reduce their number and relocate some from certain residential areas. This decision followed a slew of complaints from residents to city officials as DecoBike started to. Now just four kiosks are located in residential areas: Shore-Pacific, Grand Boulevard at West Park Avenue, Magnolia Boulevard at West Bay Drive, and Edwards Boulevard and Walnut Street.
Residents and city officials have also expressed safety concerns with the location of bike lanes that DeckoBike was contracted to install on city streets.
Bonifacio Diaz, DecoBike’s chief operating officer, said there are two types of lanes, which have already been installed based on what city officials believe are the safest locations: Oceanview, Grand, Magnolia, Edwards and Riverside boulevards, and the boardwalk, he told the Long Beach Herald:
“There are dedicated bike lanes and sharrow bike lanes, which you share the road with the cars. It all depends [on] the width of the street — which one do you accommodate if you have cars parked on one side if they open the door? So the city picked what streets they wanted the markings on, and we completely offered to pay and do the markings for them.”
* This story was updated and corrected at 4:53 p.m. on 6.28.12.