Long Beach rolls with new bike sharing firm

The lobby of the Long Beach City Hall

The lobby of the Long Beach City Hall on April 11, 2012. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

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Long Beach officials have hired a Manhattan company to create a new bicycle-sharing program in the city, designed to allow residents to reserve bicycles via smartphone.

Social Bicycles Inc. is to provide between 100 and 300 bicycles starting this summer, city officials said.

The bicycles are to be equipped with technology that allows riders to find and reserve them via mobile devices and Web browsers, officials said. The bikes will also have a keyboard interface that can be used by cyclists without access to the Internet, officials said.

The bikes can be mounted on any public bicycle rack in the city, officials said.

The contract states that "after Social Bicycles has recovered its capital investment, profits will be shared with the city," Long Beach officials said in a statement. The city will receive 20 percent of Social Bicycles' gross income in Long Beach, half of which will be used for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, city documents show.

"Social Bicycles presents a truly progressive concept that allows residents and visitors to use simple mobile technology to grab a bike when they need it," city Councilman Anthony Eramo said.

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The cost of the bike rentals has not been determined, city officials said.

Long Beach hired Miami Beach-based DecoBike to run the city's first bicycle-sharing program in 2011. The firm decided to discontinue service in Long Beach, so the city sought a new vendor, city documents indicate. Superstorm Sandy destroyed some of DecoBike's infrastructure in October 2012.

The City Council approved the contract with Social Bicycles on March 18. The five-year contract gives the city an option to renew for another five years, city documents state.

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