Riverhead is now the fourth community in Suffolk County participating in a bike-sharing program that officials want to spread countywide to reduce emissions, attract a younger workforce and improve downtown areas.
The Riverhead Town Board voted 5-0 at its Sept. 17 regular meeting to authorize Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith to execute any documents advancing Riverhead’s participation in the county’s bike-share program.
Town officials were interested in entering the program “to increase alternative transportation options, link public transportation facilities with downtown centers and public parks while reducing emissions and vehicular traffic in Riverhead,” the resolution stated.
“These programs are an important part in the last-mile connection for public transportation, connecting people with Riverhead’s businesses, as well as making it easier for people to enjoy the recently completed Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bike Trail at EPCAL,” Jens-Smith said. “This bike share program will be an incredible asset for our town, and for our residents.”
Riverhead’s entry into the bike-share initiative, which launched last week, makes it the fourth community in Suffolk County to participate, joining Babylon, Patchogue and Hampton Bays.
The program — which comes at no cost to participating communities — allows people to rent, locate and unlock bikes using an app called “Pace” on their smartphones. Riders would later pay a fee based on their bike usage, or they can sign up for a monthly membership. Riders can pause their trip when stopping at local businesses, parks or other locations.
The program, operated by bike-share company Zagster as part of a two-year pilot program sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union in partnership with the county, is something officials are hoping to spread across downtown areas countywide, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Bellone said he hoped the program would encourage more vibrant downtowns by providing pedestrians — especially young professionals whom the county is hoping to keep in Suffolk County — with easy-to-use transportation options.
“Our downtowns are a key piece of our economic plan, and we need to deliver things that those young people are looking for, and part of that is they want greater mobility,” Bellone said. “They want to be able to move around and do things without being in a car. This is part of a larger effort, and it really represents the future for suburbia.”
County officials will look to connect the bike program to local train stations to attract more users, Bellone said.