In late October 2012, Superstorm Sandy rocked the northeast coast causing billions of dollars in damage and taking at least 40 lives. Amongst the devastation included the destruction of Long Beach Boardwalk and damage to Citi Bike equipment that was flooded while in storage in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. While damage to the Citi Bike equipment added a delay the program’s launch, it looks like the destruction of the Long Beach Boardwalk will result in the indefinite suspension DecoBike Long Beach altogether.
“We’re not going to have a presence this summer because we really need the boardwalk,” said Bonifacio Diaz, co-owner and COO of the DecoBike, reports the Long Beach Patch. Sandy caused such significant damage to the boardwalk that the city had to dismantle it entirely. Compounding the issue was that, despite the bikes being removed long before Sandy hit land, the kiosks experienced significant corrosion from the surge of salt water. “We went back and re-assessed the damage and realized salt water went through the kiosks and damaged all the locks,” said Diaz. It seems that the combination of both a missing boardwalk and damaged equipment will keep DecoBike from returning to Long Beach this summer.
One is hard-pressed to argue against the science that supports the existence of human-induced climate change. Such science suggests that events like Sandy will become increasingly prevalent as the Atlantic warms and ocean currents are altered. To address our increasingly unstable climate, we have two options: we can adapt and we can mitigate. Adaptation involves things like building higher levees, moving to higher ground above sea-level, and restoring our beaches through dredging. Mitigation attempts to reduce the problem by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, say, by implementing a bike share program.
But how will bike share programs in areas susceptible to extreme weather events adapt to them in the future?
“We understand that storms like Isaac and Sandy may be more prevalent in the future. And we’re prepared to take the necessary precautions to limit damage to our bikes and stations,” says Kathryn Moore, Program Manager of Broward B-cycle. “Climate change is part of the reason we do what we do.”
Broward County, which is located along the coast of southeastern Florida, is as susceptible as any bike share program when it comes to superstorms and hurricanes. “When get the news that a storm is coming, we have a plan. If it looks like it’s going to threaten us, we can bring in the entire fleet of bikes of 275 bikes in one day with two people,” says Moore. The system has only been through one hurricane, Hurricane Isaac, in August 2012, and Moore and her team had to do just that. They brought every one of the bikes into storage. “In hindsight, we may not have needed to do that, but it’s always best to be cautious in such a situation,” says Moore.
Climate change and the increased frequency of catastrophic weather events is something that Broward B-cycle, Citi Bike, DecoBike Miami Beach and other programs along the Atlantic coast are going to continue to deal with. Planners should be cognizant of areas that are particularly vulnerable to flooding and each program must have an efficient means of getting expensive equipment off the streets in a timely manner. With good planning, major equipment losses can be avoided and bike share systems can be quickly redeployed in the event of the next Superstorm Sandy.