On Tuesday, October 3, Long Beach introduced an e-bike “library” to encourage more people to use bicycles.
This program, called the E-Bike Lending Library Program, allows residents who are at least 18 years old to borrow bikes for free for three months. There will be a total of 35 bikes placed throughout the city on a first-come, first-serve basis. According to NBC Los Angeles, 23 of these bikes are specifically reserved for low-income residents.
The goal is to ensure that these resources are accessible to all, not just those who have the means and time to request them first.
Local business owners, like Evan Whitener, are optimistic about the program. Whitener, who owns a bicycle shop near Broadway, believes that the program will increase the number of people using bike lanes. Whitener also expects the program to transform bikes from a trend into a useful tool.
E-bikes have already become popular among delivery workers, such as Bubba, an Uber Eats delivery worker who uses his own e-bike to fulfill orders. Not only does Bubba’s e-bike offer him more freedom and mobility, but it also saves him money on gas.
The funding for the e-bikes came from a one-time donation of $350,000 from the Recovery Act fund, which will also cover the costs of maintaining the program.
The program and application process will be open to the public until January 2024, providing an opportunity for many individuals to benefit from this initiative.
Long Beach’s free e-bike rental program comes as other cities in Southern California crack down on e-bikes.
In late September, Huntington Beach passed an ordinance authorizing police to issue $400 fines to riders who were found to be operating e-bikes in an “unsafe” way. Similarly, Irvine announced e-bike speed limits of 28 mph on streets and 20 mph on bike paths in July.