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COVID-19 keeps brakes on bike-share program in 3 Suffolk villages

Boston-based Zagster Inc. operates Bethpage Ride, which includes

Boston-based Zagster Inc. operates Bethpage Ride, which includes bicycles at Argyle Park in Babylon. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Bethpage Ride, the bike-share program offered in the villages of Babylon, Patchogue and Hampton Bays, remains on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic nearly two months after it was set to relaunch.

Marykate Guilfoyle, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said the county remains in contact with Boston-based Zagster Inc., the company that operates Bethpage Ride, and “is closely monitoring the ongoing crisis as we plan for a relaunch of the program,” which would include sanitizing the bikes.

The ride-share program has 746 current members, Guilfoyle said.

The for-rent bike program launched in September with 100 orange bikes, and ran until November, when the bikes were stored away for the winter. The program was to restart on April 1 and bikes were to be placed in 17 stations within the three villages, but the relaunch was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The program is modeled after Citi Bike in New York City and is named after its sponsor, Bethpage Federal Credit Union.    

Zagster Inc. is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Bethpage Ride, Guilfoyle said. Zagster, which runs more than 200 such programs in 38 states, did not respond to a request for comment about when the program would resume.  

Joseph Keyes, a Patchogue Village trustee, said he is hopeful Bethpage Ride will return but is unsure when that will be.

“Some steps would have to be taken for people to feel comfortable,” Keyes said.  

Keyes said the bike stations are near train stations, downtowns and waterfront areas. In Patchogue Village, a rider can use the bike to head to the Davis Park Ferry and then leave it there.

Robyn Silvestri, a Babylon Village trustee who also heads up the bicycle advisory committee, said Argyle Lake and the Park Avenue Tennis Courts and Trails are the most-visited places riders go when the bikes are available. She said the coronavirus outbreak has likely made people wary of sharing items.

“With the bikes, we don’t have the daily cleaning,” Silvestri said. “We want to make sure people are safe.”

Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said reopening the bike share program is unpredictable due to COVID-19, but that people should not be deterred from going outdoors.

“In the meantime, I encourage all to continue to exercise and enjoy the outdoors safely,” Schiavoni said.

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