Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the beginning of a process to establish a regional bike share program in Suffolk County. The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning has issued a Request for Information to gather best practices, cost estimates, and keys to implementation and operation of such a program. In addition, a bike share system will have a positive impact on the local economy by increasing tourism and improving transportation access for residents and visitors alike.
“We view bike-sharing as a win-win that provides greater tourism and economic development while providing a healthy alternative that ultimately reduces automobile emissions,” said County Executive Bellone. “This latest initiative ensures that Suffolk County remains a leader in embracing cutting edge transportation alternatives that better connect residents to our vibrant downtowns.”
Theresa Ward, Deputy County Executive and Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning said: “As a preview user and one of the earliest members of Citibike in NYC, I know firsthand how important bike share is for improving local mobility. I am pleased that Suffolk County is taking this important step toward a Countywide bike share system.”
The prospect of launching a wide-ranging bike share network in Suffolk County presents numerous economic, recreational and transit benefits. These include:
- Extending the reach of the transit network by providing last-mile connectivity between transit stops and popular destinations
- Supporting a ‘park once’ approach for cars where appropriate
- Decreasing the use of the automobile as the primary mode of transportation
- Encouraging a more active lifestyle and providing bicycles for intermittent recreational use
- Establishing a stronger bicycle network in Suffolk County, complete with new bike lanes and supporting infrastructure
The proposed bike share program complements County Executive Bellone’s Connect Long Island plan – a regional transportation and development initiative that promotes sustainable long-term economic growth in Suffolk County. In particular, this model calls for development around transit nodes, investment in enhancements to existing mass transit infrastructure, and implementation of new rapid transit systems to create a robust transit network and connect regional assets and downtowns.
In Suffolk County, many downtowns, train stations, and recreational assets such as parks and waterfronts are separated from each other by a distance that makes walkability extremely difficult. A well-targeted bike share program will help overcome these distances for many users and reduce the number of automobile trips taken as a result. A regional bike share program is viewed as the latest step in an effort to increase the interconnectivity of downtowns, employment centers, major institutions, and other assets via alternative modes of transportation, while further supporting the Suffolk County Connect Long Island vision.
Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President of Stony Brook University said: “If the Stony Brook University ‘Wolf Ride’ bike share program is any indication, this will be a winning initiative for the people of Suffolk County. Since officially launching in the spring of 2013, Stony Brook University has been providing our students, faculty and staff with a sustainable and healthy transportation alternative that is effectively reducing our carbon footprint; it has grown in popularity and usage over time and I suspect the residents of our region will respond to the County’s program with similar enthusiasm.”
Rosemary Mascali, Co-Chair of the Sustainable Transportation Committee of the US Green Building Council said: “A regional bike share program would be great for Long Island. Besides providing us with more local travel choices by complementing our existing train and bus service, bike share can attract visitors to our beaches and parks, reduce air pollution and improve our health.” Ms. Mascali, who also co-chairs Long Island’s annual Car Free Day LI celebration added, “Suffolk County’s leadership in exploring a regional bike share program for Long Island provides the potential added benefits of economies of scale, a bigger user base, and enhanced grant funding and sponsorship opportunities.”
Nicholas Palumbo, Executive Director of Sustainability Programs at Suffolk County Community College said: “Bike sharing systems are proliferating around the world because they represent a low-cost, environmentally friendly, active transportation option. Bringing bike share to Long Island would be a healthy and fun quality of life enhancement for many local communities.”
Wayne Horsley, Regional Director, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said: “Bicycling is a fun, healthy and environmentally friendly way to explore Long Island. State Parks applauds County Executive Bellone’s efforts to make Suffolk County more bikeable.”