County to restart bike-share program under new vendor, but Riverhead not yet included

Suffolk County is restarting a bike-share program it began last year, but Riverhead isn’t among the locations initially eyed by the program, although that will likely change in the future, officials said.

In February, Riverhead Town and several other municipalities were on the verge of launching bike sharing programs in conjunction with Suffolk County and a private vendor, Zagster.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and those plans fell by the wayside after Zagster notified the county that they would be ceasing all bike share operations.

Prior to the pandemic, Riverhead had planned to have bike rental stations at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton; the Long Island Aquarium on East Main Street; the River and Roots Community Garden on West Main Street; the Long Island Rail Road station on Railroad Avenue; the Riverhead Town Hall parking lot; and the downtown Riverfront.

In addition to Riverhead, the ride-sharing program — called Bethpage Ride, due its sponsorship by Bethpage Federal Credit Union — was planned in Hampton Bays, Patchogue and Babylon before COVID-19 struck.

But County Executive Steve Bellone announced that a new vendor — Southampton-based Pedal Share — will take over the operation of the bike share program, and will have bikes available to rent in the incorporated villages of Babylon, Patchogue and Southampton, as well as in Hampton Bays.

Pedal Share also has ride sharing programs in the villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue and has had one in Southampton Village since July 2018.

“Bethpage Ride is back,” Mr. Bellone said in a press release. “COVID-19 may have put a dent into our regional bike share program, but thanks to the steadfast commitment of Bethpage Federal Credit Union and our new partnership with Pedal Share, today we start back up right where we left off.”

He said that there has been “an unprecedented resurgence in the popularity of cycling” in the past six months.

But missing from that list is Riverhead.

“Due to the logistics of re-launching the system with a brand new operator after Zagster notified the county that it would ceasing all bike share operation, we did not have the ability to launch in Riverhead this year,” said Marykate Guilfoyle, a spokesperson for Mr. Bellone. “However, the county still intends to work with Riverhead and is actively working with them to make that happen next year.”

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar also said that Riverhead is still interested in the program.

“We have a conference call with the county planned about that and they apparently have a new supplier,” she said. “We need to work out the final details.”

She said the town is still committed to the ride-share program.

The ride share program can be accessed through smartphone devices.

Users will have the ability to download the Bloom app and will either be able to pay per ride or buy a membership, according to Mr. Bellone.

Riders — who must be 18 years or older — have several different rental options with Bethpage Ride. They can pay $4 per hour, but can also opt for a daily rate of $35 or a yearly plan for $59. This yearly plan allows for unlimited trips of up to one hour, according to the county.