The city hasn’t put the brakes on a local bike-sharing program just yet.
After Miami-based DecoBike recently informed the city that it was not going to continue its bike-sharing program in Long Beach, the City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to enter into a contract with another company, the Manhattan-based Social Bicycles Inc. — known as SoBi — to roll out what was described as a more efficient “smart bike” rental program.
The city had a five-year contract with DecoBike that was terminated after the company bowed out, and the city released a request for proposals earlier this year to find a new operator. A spokesperson for DecoBike could not immediately be reached for comment.
City Manager Jack Schnirman said that the city received three responses to its RFP, including one from a local bike shop.* Social Bicycles, he said, was selected because it is a good fit for the community with a “sustainable approach, record of results and advanced technology that is easy to use.”
“[Hurricane] Sandy played a role, and unfortunately [DecoBike] informed us, rather late in the planning process for this summer, that they’d be unable to return,” Schnirman said. “Our economic development and planning folks did a terrific job of turning around a new updated RFP on extremely short notice, and we did some great outreach to New York City, to the Citi Bike folks, to get some advice … We could have lost this season altogether. One of the things residents have been asking is, when is this going to come back? We’re going to see a better setup coming to Long Beach beginning this summer. They’re gearing up this summer, and next summer will be a full rollout.”
As part of the five-year agreement, the city will receive 20 percent of Social Bicycles’ gross income from the program, half of which will be used for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects, part of what Schnirman described as the city’s “complete streets” initiative.
“We are thrilled to bring a bike-share program back this summer,” said City Council President Scott Mandel. “Social Bicycles will take bike-sharing in Long Beach to the next level, using innovative wireless technology that works with any bike rack and leverages existing bicycle infrastructure.”