Staten Island Won’t Get Bike Share Until 2021 At The Earliest

Beryl founder Emily Brooke on one of her company's rentable bikes, the kind of bike that won't debut on Staten Island until 2021.
Beryl founder Emily Brooke on one of her company's rentable bikes, the kind of bike that won't debut on Staten Island until 2021.

Beryl Bikes? More like Bummer Bikes.

Staten Island will continue to be the only borough without a bike share system, as Beryl, the British company that the city chose to run the program, said that the coronavirus pandemic wrecked its plans to debut on the Rock this year as promised.

“The pandemic has meant delivery of vehicles and the mobilisation [British spelling] of the scheme in the spring was operationally impossible,” Beryl Head of Growth Georgia Yexley wrote in a blog post published on Friday. “At present, many key team members for the mobilisation are unable to enter the U.S.”

Yexley insisted that Beryl would actually get rolling in the island borough at some point, and that even without employees on the ground, it was remaining in touch with community boards and the Department of Transportation while the world waits for the deadly virus to subside. The DOT confirmed the new 2021 target in a Friday tweet, and did not offer any further comment when contacted by Streetsblog.

The picture in the tweet was from 2019.

It’s the latest in what has been a bumpy attempt to bring bike share to Staten Island again, a service the borough has gone without since dockless bike share companies Jump and Lime pulled out of the island at the end of 2019. Beryl, a small company that has just 2,917 bikes in several small areas in England, was originally going to debut on Staten Island by Spring 2020 with 1,000 bikes across the borough. However in February, 2020, the company announced that the service area has been reduced to just the north and east shore of the island, though the DOT still says that the service area was larger than the pilot provided by Jump and Lime.

After the February announcement, the company then claimed that coronavirus had delayed its debut indefinitely.

In the blog post, Yexley also said that the company had already done some scouting for parking bays for its dockless bikes, and that the delay could have a silver lining of an expanded service area since the scouting is still happening. Unlike Lime and Jump, Beryl offers an incentive system to encourage users to park bikes in “docks” that are painted on the ground. The exact price for the parking outside a bay hasn’t been set yet in America, according to the DOT’s Beryl page.

Even if some work is continuing, the setback is particularly egregious at a time when Citi Bike is continuing to expand into the Bronx and prove itself as a necessary piece of car-free transportation for a subway-wary population. Even Revel had expanded its footprint into Manhattan before it stepped back to reevaluate its safety practices after two riders died in unrelated crashes in consecutive weeks.

And the city is also shying away from its own ambitious plans to help bus riders, as evidenced by the news that the DOT was shrinking a planned 3.3-mile bus lane on Hylan Boulevard to 1.4 miles after pro-car City Council Members Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo complained about a loss of parking spaces. That pullback came after the city suspended its own Flushing busway plans, too.

Cycling advocates said that the delay will continue to provide an environment where Staten Island residents are being all but forced to use a car if they want to get around.

“The launch of Beryl bike share on Staten Island, the only borough where driving is the dominant mode of transport, is an important step in providing Staten Island residents and visitors the power of choice in how they get around,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris said in response to Beryl’s announcement on the delay.

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