Bayonne’s bike share program is almost ready for installation. “Bayonne Bike Share” signs are beginning to pop up around town with maps indicating the locations of seven stations dispersed evenly throughout the city. Bayonne will be the fourth city in the county to adopt a bike share program, and the third to use P3 Global Management, the company that was awarded the contract to install and maintain the bike share program.
The planned stations will be at Dennis Collins Park, 16th Street Park, Stephen R. Gregg Park, in front of the Barnabas at Bayonne on Broadway and 30th Street, and the light rail stations on 22nd Street, 34th Street, and 45th Street. The program will be funded through membership and usage fees.
Bike share programs typically charge a monthly or annual membership for rides up to 45 minutes. In Hoboken, where the Hudson Bike Share program was implemented in 2015 using the same contractor as Bayonne, P3 Global Management, annual membership costs less than $100 for unlimited 45-minute rides, while longer rides cost extra. Riders will either enter an individualized code at the station or a card to unlock a bike and will be able to return the bike to any station in the city. Rates for the Bayonne Bike Share are not yet finalized.
The stations, which occupy the equivalent of one parking space, are like a high-tech bike rack that automatically locks the front rims of the bikes. In Hoboken, the bikes lock automatically even if not in a station, allowing other riders to punch in a code and ride off. It is unclear whether Bayonne will have a similar feature.
“Ultimately, we just want the best service for our residents.” – Joe DeMarco
Safe, but heavy
“They look heavy. I bet you can’t go too fast on them,” said Craig R., 14, who rides his own single-speed bicycle around Bayonne to meet friends. “I think I’ll keep using my own.”Probably a good plan since he would need a credit card or access to a code.
Bike-share bikes are much clunkier and slower than the typical bicycle and have a lower center of gravity. This makes them easier to ride, safer, and more durable. Riders with a need for speed might consider using their own bikes. But for riders averse to carrying bikes in and out of their homes and having to lock them up everywhere, a bike share may be more suitable.
“I’d definitely use this to ride to the light rail,” said Clarissa Mayer, 30, who lives near 16th Street Park. Instead of a 20-minute walk in the morning, a bike ride would take only five minutes to get from her house to the 22nd Street light rail station. And instead of locking her own bicycle to a street feature, and hope it is there when she returns at the end of the day, shared bicycles should always be waiting upon return.
“I think I’d still be a little nervous with these crazy drivers and no bike lanes,” said Mayer. “But I’ll give it a try.”
Residents could expect a flawless bike share system. Lessons can be learned from Hoboken’s Hudson Bike Share, which has experienced issues with bicycles not locking to stations (if the bicycle does not lock, the rider can be charged for additional time), and technical issues with the smartphone application.
The Hudson Bike Share in Hoboken has encountered problems lately that Bayonne’s version should seek to avoid. Allison Dillon, a Hoboken resident said of the Hudson Bike Share, “I probably use the bikes five or six times a week to get around town or go to the gym. I’ve had a lot of issues with the bikes. Sometimes they don’t lock, and you have to call customer service so they can lock it on their end; sometimes the seats fall as you’re riding them, sometimes the touchpads don’t work, and sometimes the gears are unreliable.”
But, Dillon said, the bike share remains more convenient than keeping a bicycle of her own. “It’s still the easiest way to get around town.”
When the Bayonne Bike Share officially launches, riders should contact the customer support line if they have problems. Hoboken residents who reported being overcharged when the bike share did not record their bicycles being returned said the company always reimbursed them properly.
Still, Bayonne and its contractor will be working to make the program better over time. “Residents can contact us so we can be aware of those problems,” said Bayonne Business Administrator Joe DeMarco. “Ultimately, we just want the best service for our residents.”
Residents both in Hoboken and Bayonne have been skeptical of the bike share’s geographical limitations. A rider in Hoboken, for instance, cannot ride a shared bicycle to Bayonne and lock it up to a station. The systems are entirely separate.
In Jersey City, which has adopted the Citibike program, riders also cannot drop off shared bicycles in other Hudson County cities, but can in New York City, which uses the same Citibike program. As Hudson County cities grow more connected, this may become a bigger issue in the future. For now, most people use the programs to commute to a public transit station rather than for a leisurely weekend bike ride across the county.
The Hudson River Walkway will extend to Bayonne from Jersey City, Hoboken, and Weehawken. When complete, it will extend all the way to the George Washington Bridge.
Bayonne’s western shore is due to get a walkway connecting parks and natural shorelines, from Rutkowski Park all the way to Dennis Collins Park. In addition to the city’s initiative to revitalize parks and make waterfronts accessible, a bike-share program could help attract developers looking to lure young and carefree professionals to the area.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.