Bicyclists pass the the Decobike bicycle kiosk on the western...

Bicyclists pass the the Decobike bicycle kiosk on the western end of the Long Beach Boardwalk. By using a credit card, people can rent bikes from the self-serve kiosk at a rate of $4 for 30 minutes or $6 and hour and up. (June 7, 2012) Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

Long Beach's first summer as a bicycle-sharing community will begin in less than a month, and James Lynch is geared up already.

"When relatives come down, grab a couple of bikes and let's go," said Lynch, an avid cyclist. "It's presenting another option for people."

But some Long Beach residents have expressed more trepidation than joy over a new bicycle rental program, which is due to start by July 4.

Long Beach will open at least 16 kiosks around the city where about 400 bicycles can be rented, thanks to an agreement reached last year with Miami Beach-based DecoBike. The bikes will be locked to bars stretching out from the kiosks.

Residents, and some Long Beach officials, said the bicycles could bring a rise in traffic accidents and make driving in the city more difficult on busy beach days. Others have said some of the rental kiosks are located too close to residences and will cause bike users to loiter near homes.

Long Beach needs more dedicated bike lanes and to educate residents about bike safety before beginning a bike-sharing program, said resident Allison Blanchette. She also said locating the bicycles in residential areas is wrongheaded.

"If we're going to have these things, at least put them in sensible places, like the central business district," said Blanchette, a cyclist who rides in the city.

The rental kiosks have been springing up around the city in recent weeks. Three are located on the oceanfront boardwalk, one is near the Long Island Rail Road station and another is on Edwards Boulevard.

The rest of the kiosks will be in a mix of commercial and residential areas and will be completed by late June, said David Silverman, a spokesman for DecoBike.

Rentals start at $4 for 30 minutes and range up to $24 for eight hours.

Cash-strapped Long Beach will get 10 percent of the company's sales receipts and 10 percent of its revenue from ads placed on the bikes, the contract states.

Silverman said he expects residents to warm to the rental bikes when they arrive.

"It's a very bike-friendly community," Silverman said. "Once they realize what this service is, I think they will change their mind about this."

Bike-sharing programs exist all over the world, in cities including Paris, Washington, D.C., and Mexico City. New York City's bike-sharing program begins next month.

The DecoBike contract was approved last year by the City Council in a 3-2 vote; two of the members voting yes are no longer on the council.

Council member Michael Fagen, who voted no, said he will keep a close eye on the program's progress.

"I hate the locations," he said. "It wasn't a very well thought-out plan."

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