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After last proposal fizzled, a new bike share program wants to come to Riverhead

Bike sharing could be coming to Riverhead Town through a company called Pedal Share, which made a presentation before the Town Board Thursday. 

The town had planned to participate with Suffolk County on a bike sharing program called Zagster in 2020. But that company went out of business shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

In the fall of 2020, the county had announced that Pedal Share would be taking over the county bike share program, though Riverhead was not initially part of that program then.

Christopher Diamond, the director of Pedal Share, said his company also has expanded into Patchogue, Babylon Village and Hampton Bays.

There is no cost to the municipality, Mr. Diamond said.

The way the program works, people can download the smartphone app called Bloom, from either the Apple “App Store” or from Google Play, and from there can sign up to use the program, which can show riders where bikes are, what the rate plans are and all the information needed to rent a bike with the program, Mr. Diamond said. 

The service year runs from May 1 to Nov. 1.

Currently, Pedal Share has 1,293 users in the program, with 195 bikes, more than 290 bike docks at 45 docking stations, and it has rented more than 2,000 bicycles, according to Mr. Diamond, who hopes to expand into other places in Suffolk County as well. 

The prices are $4 per hour; $35 per day; and $59 for an annual membership, which does unlimited one-hour rides.

The bike share will promote bike safety and local laws regarding where bikes can and can’t go, and it can provide “first or last minute” transportation from a bike or train stop, Mr. Diamond said.

The program works by having the rider find the docking station and then use the QR on their phone to unlock the bike.  When they bring it back to the station, the bikes can’t be locked unless they are in a “geofence” at the docking station, Mr. Diamond said. 

Councilman Ken Rothwell said the concept was brought to the town’s alternative transportation committee. He said they were excited about having bike sharing at the town’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial park in EPCAL, which has a nine-mile bike and hiking trail around it. 

He also said the bike sharing program can be used in promoting Riverhead as a destination. He said people could bring their bikes by train and then ride from the train station to the downtown area.  

Mr. Diamond said he initially envisioned putting bike docks at Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Park, the Railroad Avenue train station, at town hall, at the community garden on West Main Street and at the riverfront, but he said these locations can be changed if the town wants. 

“I’m glad to see it back on the table,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said of the bike share program. “This is a win-win.”

“This is a great thing for the town,” said parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne. “The EPCAL trail is one of the most popular things we have.”

“It will be great to have them there,” Mr. Rothwell said.