Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on December 26th, 2007 at 1:11 am
In downtown Long Beach, those who ‘go by bike’ don’t exactly get the red-carpet treatment.
The streets are wide, the cars go fast, and there are few bike-friendly routes. The safest place to ride is on the sidewalk, but that’s illegal.
And then, in the middle of it all, lies an oasis known as Bikestation Long Beach. A few days ago I got a tour of the facility from executive director Andrea White.
manager Dominic Dougherty (L).
The modern glass structure — with its rooftop solar panels and whimsical sign (complete with a spinning “B”) that arches up into the sky — welcomes visitors and offers free valet bike parking, rentals, repairs, and a shop stocked with essentials.
Bikestation Long Beach opened 12 years ago and was the first facility of its kind in the country. Just over two years ago it was completely rebuilt and relocated to its current location; between Metro train stops and bus stops in the middle of the First Street Transit Mall.
As she went over the basics of what Bikestation offers, White beamed about how the concept has finally caught on with city bigwigs. “This is a big jewel for the city and for the Redevelopment Agency,” she says. “They’re fully on board.”
White says she’s also working with the city on plans for a bike-sharing system, similiar to the one being used in Paris and under consideration in Portland. That project is “on the front burner” and Bikestation is poised to launch the system in the next few months. White says it will utilize their existing membership card-access technology and will start with two kiosks of bikes.
Bikestation hopes to integrate the bike-sharing system into their bike valet and secure parking services. “It’s a pilot project for us, but we see a lot of potential in integrating bike-sharing with our existing services…it will be a full solution.”
White is also busy with plans to move into a new, larger building next door, which will allow members to take showers (and thus avoid dreaded helmet hair).
Sounds great huh? So why doesn’t Portland join Long Beach, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Seattle with a Bikestation of our own?
According to White, there have been meetings and conversations, but progress on a Portland facility has stalled. White says she has submitted proposals and has even lined up a major local bike shop as an operating partner. Feeling a bit flummoxed by the lack of progress, White added that there’s still a question of where the funding would come from.
It seems Portland would be a perfect fit for a Bikestation. There are already rumors of a “bike hub” facility coming at the First & Main development (at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge) and there’s the possibility of a bike-commuter services facility popping up at the former McCall’s Restaurant site in Waterfront Park.
Regardless of what happens, Bikestation has found a successful formula of services and execution that would ensure its success in Portland.
Before Andrea left, I got her and Bikestation Long Beach manager Dominic Dougherty to pose with their vehicles of choice: a Smart Car for her (she’s got it on loan from the manufacturer), and an Xtracycle for him…
For more photos of my visit to Bikestation Long Beach, see the photo gallery.