Biking Long Beach with the new Deco bike-share program can be both a thrill and a challenge. Although pedalers can avoid gas expenses and the painful search for parking, biking next to cars whizzing by at 40 miles an hour can be a little scary.
The bikes are "a really fun thing to do, especially if you live outside the area," says Sharon Slomovich, 22, of Woodmere, who was riding a Deco on the boardwalk with her sister on a recent weekday afternoon. As for taking to the streets, "I'm a little scared," she says.
Here's a rundown of how the program works, as well as an easy-to-navigate route from the west end of Long Beach to the east end that almost any biker can tackle:
Long Beach has 16 stations where you can rent or return a bike. You'll need a debit or credit card -- kiosks don't accept cash. Fees range from $4 for half an hour ($6 for one hour) to $24 for eight hours. Monthly passes are available.
As for the bikes, they're adult-size, silver, with adjustable seats and a sizable front basket. The bikes also have a two-pronged kickstand, which requires you to lift the bike a few inches when putting it on the kickstand. You're on your own for helmets and locks.
1. West Beech Street (at Nevada Avenue) Check out a bike from the kiosk here, then head east on West Beech -- your biggest obstacles are slow-moving traffic and parked cars.Riders can make pit-stops for food and drinks at any number of spots along this strip. Places like the Beach House have live music (516-208-8733, thebeachhouselbny.com).
2. Head north Turn left on Magnolia Boulevard, then make a choice: You can continue three blocks to Park Avenue, Long Beach's busy divided thoroughfare, where specialty shops, restaurants and bars dominate (consider walking your bike on the sidewalk here if you're not comfortable with the traffic on the street). Or, for a more relaxed ride, take Magnolia two blocks north to Walnut Street. Either way, you'll make a right and pedal leisurely for about eight blocks to Neptune Boulevard.
3. To the boardwalk When you get to Neptune, make a right and you'll soon hit the boardwalk. Bikers can ride the entire 2.2-mile stretch, which has a scenic center bike lane. You can get your heart pumping with a fast ride or take your time. Pedalers can stop to enjoy the ocean view or, if you want to go for a swim, lock up your bike -- or return it at one of the Deco kiosks -- and head to the beach ($12 for a day beach pass).
If you're still on a roll, continue along the boardwalk to New York Avenue, turn right and ride to West Beach Street, make a left and pedal back to the kiosk where your adventure started.
GOOD TO KNOW
Helmets and locks not provided
Illegal to bike on sidewalks
Ride with traffic, signal turns and obey all traffic signals
Deco Bike Share
16 kiosks in Long Beach
FEE Varies, but $6 for an hour
INFO 305-532-9494, decobikelbny.com