ROCKAWAY, Queens — It’s less than a week old, but some Rockaway residents want to put the brakes on a new dockless bike program after the two-wheelers started popping up in some very unusual and inconvenient places.
“This is the first ever dockless bike program in New York City and this is the first neighborhood that will have it. Congratulations to the Rockaways,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday.
Two companies, Pace and Limebike, each rolled out 150 bikes over the weekend. Many residents and riders were thrilled by the arrival.
“I think it’s a beautiful idea. Everybody doesn’t have bike down here, we all don’t live down here,” Rockaway resident Mike Aulet saidas he walked along the boardwalk. “I’m on the boardwalk pretty much every day — to have a bike to use just to return is a beautiful idea.”
The great thing about the dockless bikes is that riders can pick them up anywhere. They just need to find the closest one by using the GPS built into each of the apps.
“We were sitting on the beach. We just walked up and these were right here,” Lyle Kenny said as she unlocked her bike and took off down the boardwalk with her boyfriend.
When riders are done, they can park them anywhere.
“You know, it’s very convenient. You don’t have to return to the dock as you do in Manhattan. You don’t have to return to a specific area so I think that part is very nice,” said Victoria Frango, who was visiting from Howard Beach.
While that’s convenient for the rider, it’s also causing frustration for those in the community. On the Facebook Group Friends of Rockaway Beach, residents posted photos of Limebikes abandoned all over the neighborhood. One was ditched in the dunes, while others were left blocking driveways and sidewalks.
“It does seem weird to just be left randomly on the side of a street or in the middle of a block someplace,” Kenny said.
The problem is one Limebikes has experienced before. There’s an entire Twitter account with the handle @DocklessBikeFail that showcases problems parking the bikes in Seattle.
Sometimes the bikes end up in trees, underwater or stacked on street corners. For it’s part, the company has tried to teach riders about parking etiquette with a Matrix-inspired video.
While people that PIX11 News spoke to agreed that leaving a bike out in the open will take a little education and some getting used to, especially for skeptical New Yorkers, they said parking properly just takes a little respect and common sense.
“I would leave it as safe a place as possible,” Aulet said.
As for the other dockless bike brand Pace, the parking situation seems a little more organized. That’s because unlike Limebike, which has the lock built into the back wheel, Pace requires riders to lock their bikes to a fixed location like a traditional bike rack or a fence. Although at this point it does appear there are fewer Pace bikes in circulation and when following the GPS, several of those bikes did not seem to match the locations listed on the app.