Although Christina Santos and her husband, Robert, own their own bikes, she says it can be a “schlep” to get them ready for a ride if the couple wants to venture outside of their Babylon Village neighborhood.
“We usually just ride around the neighborhood, but there’s traffic so it’s safer to go someplace like Argyle Lake,” Santos says. “But if we want to take a quick ride around Argyle Lake we have to drag the bikes from our shed, put them in bike racks on the car and then drive about one-and-a-half miles to take a ride around the lake, which is about three-quarters of a mile, then after that there’s the car ride back home,” Santos says.
“Bethpage Ride” — a new regional bike share program that started this month in Babylon Village, Patchogue and Hampton Bays — makes the couple's bike ride around Argyle Lake much easier, Santos says. It offers a total of 100 orange bicycles for rent in the three communities to those who want to ride a bike for recreation or as part of their commute, and it’s starting just in time for riders to take in the fall foliage.
Babylon Village Trustee Robin Silvestri says that Babylon Village in particular is a great place to take in the sights during a leisurely bike ride.
"It was great, we loved them [the rented bikes]," Santos recalls after the couple's recent ride. "We'd do it again. You just park your car in the parking lot and hop on the bike."
HOW IT WORKS
The program, named after its sponsor, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is designed to be flexible to meet the needs of many kinds of users, says Jonathan Keyes, director of Downtown and Transit-Oriented Development for the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning.
Babylon has six bike rental stations located throughout the downtown, at the train station and the waterfront. Riders pay $1 per 15 minutes, but they can also opt for a $10 monthly plan $60 yearly plan and get unlimited trips of up to 30 minutes. College students and EBT (electronic benefit transfer) recipients receive half- off pricing. Riders should bring their own bike helmets.
Smartphone users can download the Pace app to map bike share stations, check up-to-date bike and parking availability and pay for rides. System members get universal access to other Pace bike share programs on Long Island and throughout the United States.
The program will be suspended during the winter. Plans are to put the bikes in storage from approximately late November to late March.
FOR A SHORT RIDE Argyle Lake loop
DISTANCE About 3/4 mile
PICK UP STATION Carlston Avenue
Argyle Lake is in the heart of the village. There's a shared paved and hard gravel pedestrian/bike path that provides a lovely backdrop. You'll pass by Argyle Falls, swans, and beautiful landscaping.
FOR A LONGER RIDE Belmont Lake loop
DISTANCE 6 miles
PICK UP STATION Park Avenue
The Park Avenue rack sits at the entrance to a 6-mile loop that is a well-maintained, off-road path running past Southards Pond, up and around Belmont Lake. This is mostly flat, tree-shaded route and you may encounter horses on trail rides from the Babylon Riding Stable (riders are asked to please be courteous and dismount while the horses pass). The path has mile markers along the serene westernmost path, which is also used by walkers, joggers and even bird-watchers. In addition Belmont Lake State Park has many amenities including seasonal paddleboat rides and bathrooms.
Bike share stations in Babylon:
Babylon Long Island Rail Road station
Babylon Village Pool
Argyle Park/Carlston Place