County bike-sharing program seeks expansion in Southwold

Southold officials are considering whether to allow a county-wide bike-sharing program to expand into the city by installing multiple bike racks on city property.

Chris Damon, co-founder of PedalShare, the official operator of Suffolk County’s bike-sharing program, is seeking permission from the city to install several bike-sharing stations on certain town-owned properties, including the city’s entertainment center on Peconic Lane, Town Hall on the road The main and city beach is along County Route 48.

If approved, Dimon told the board that the program would seek bike sponsors, which would help pay for the program, and then proceed with the installation of bike stations. The bikes cost $4 an hour to ride, according to PedalShare’s website. The program will be free to the town as the sponsor pays for it, according to Damon.

We have general ideas for some of the sites [in Southold]Damon said, but nothing locked up. “It becomes a collaborative effort where we need certain places to expand the program, so it becomes a public-private partnership to really expand it.”

Since becoming the operator of the Suffolk County Regional Bike Sharing Program in 2020, PedalShare has expanded to include Huntington, Patchoug, Babylon, Riverhead Town and Bridgehampton, among other communities. The programme, launched in 2018, currently has 3,866 county-wide users as well as more than 50 stations and 200 bikes across eight municipalities, according to statistics Damon shared with Southwold City Council at the November 16 working session.

Councilwoman Sarah Napa, board coordinator for the city’s transportation committee, said residents suggested making more bikes available in Southwold during a talk forum on transportation.

“This idea fits with a larger goal of making sure there are more bikes in Southwold,” said Napa.

While he liked the bike-sharing program, Southold superintendent Scott Russell told Newsday in a recent interview that the design and scale of Southold’s roads could make implementation difficult.

“It’s a great idea, but it’s difficult for Southold because we don’t have roads with bike lanes or anything similar,” Russell said, “and it would be very difficult to accommodate bikes on these very narrow winding roads, so all of those things should be thought about before you proceed.”

The program will also look at some special locations in the city, Dimon said, although it is up to the owners of these properties. In addition, program officials will speak with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about adding bike stops at LIRR Southold train station along Youngs Street and Traveler Street.

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