Saturday, April 23, 2016

Long Beach Bike Share Trial Run

So that's why they call it Long Beach . . .

Alrighty, it's official:  I've used bike share!  Specifically Long Beach Bike Share.  See my previous post for more info.  It's pretty cool.  I was a little awkward at first figuring out how to use the app, but got the hang of it after a while.  You pre-load money and then, when you check out a bike, it starts deducting money.  A timer will appear in the app and on the bike.  Turns out it charges you by the minute at the rate of $7 an hour (about 12 cents per minute) under the plan I chose.  This is good, since I guess I was initially under the impression that you had to pay for a larger chunk of time, even if you didn't use it all.  You get an account number and a PIN and then put it into the bike's on-board computer as shown below.

Yes, that is a computer attached to a bike!

Once you've told the bike who you are and that you have money, the yellow U lock will disengage.  You just mount the lock on the left side in those two holes.  The bikes have eight speeds and a bell!  They're also really heavy for some reason.  I really enjoyed biking around Downtown Long Beach and made my way down to the beach (first pic).  If you ride down the coast you can come back Downtown on a bike lane on 3rd Street.  You can use the app to find a station to return the bike to (not necessarily the one you started from).  The app will tell you how many available racks there are at each station!

Overall, I'm a fan.  It's nice to get off the Blue Line and just rent a bike for fun.  One concern I have is that the terms and conditions say that you have to pay $2,000 if the bike is stolen.  Certainly you should have to pay something in that situation, but $2,000 seems a little steep.  That kind of liability might be a turnoff for some people.  One question I have is whether there is a penalty for going below the amount of money you have pre-loaded in the app or if it just charges you for any extra riding time with no penalty.  Still, it'll be neat to see the system expand.  Looking at the website, it seems like the number of stations has already increased a bit in the short time since I used it.  This newfangled bike share thing might just catch on!

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