There are many possible parts to a revitalized Atlantic City area. There’s a consensus that one is making it an appealing place for millennials to live and work.
Millennials like cities that are transit hubs because they spend time in other cities and don’t want the expense of owning a car. That means they could also use an inexpensive method for getting around town.
A Ventnor-based partnership has a proposal that might work nicely. Shore Bike Share wants to bring the big-city service of bicycle sharing to Absecon Island. The partners plan to start modestly, deploying just 50 bicycles for short-term rental dispersed among five bike-parking stations in the Downbeach communities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
Bike sharing is already big and growing rapidly in America. About 70 operators were offering shared bicycles in 104 cities as of last year. Citi Bike in New York has 10,000 bicycles on the street in docking stations, and last year logged 14 million rides.
Shore Bike Share plans to follow the traditional model of bicycles that must be picked up from and returned to docking stations.
In many U.S. cities, that has slowed usage. Riders have to go to the docking station nearest their destination and then walk the rest of the way. Worse, if that docking station is full and they can’t drop off their bike there, they have to keep riding to an even less convenient station.
There’s a new trend in bike sharing that offers more convenience. Some services are offering bicycles that can be unlocked and rented anywhere using a mobile phone app. Then when riders arrive at their destinations, they just park in any public bike rack and exit their rides through the app, locking the bikes again. GPS devices on the bicycles allow the operators to keep track of them all.
A California startup, Limebike, is seeking to introduce dockless bike sharing nationwide.
Ventnor’s Shore Bike Share is planning an app-based service with bikes locked in docking stations. Maybe docking stations will work on compact Absecon Island. Maybe dockless bikes would work better.
City officials tend to prefer the traditional service with a limited number of docking stations means it’s less likely they’ll be bothered by a complaint about a share bike being left in an inappropriate location.
We think a successful bike-sharing service would be a significant benefit for Atlantic City and Absecon Island. The urban millennnials the area is courting already feel such a service should be part of livable cities.
The municipalities of the island would be wise to work patiently with bike-service providers to make sharing happen in a way that works for young adults. If local officials want millennials to love the area and make it a success, they’d better be prepared to show some love, too.