New York City’s bike share program to launch in 2012
New York City has been on a green-bent the last few years. The city kicked cars out of portions of Times Square creating pedestrian enclaves and painted a green network of 200 miles of new bike lanes across the five boroughs. Now the city is on track to build the largest bike-share program in the United States. The Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) proposes a 24-hour network of about 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, believing that New York’s density and demand could lead to a program that would – unlike other cities – make a profit, and be launched by 2012.
The city began the process in 2009 with a report analyzing bike-shares Velib’ in Paris, Bicing in Barcelona, SmartBike in Washington DC, Bixi in Montreal and Vélô Toulouse in Toulouse for clues about successful bike-share programs. It concluded that to truly be successful and financially viable, programs have to be large scale, and recommended that NYC plan a city-wide program. Financing is expected to come from membership fees, sponsorship and advertising, and will be shared between the program contractor and the city. Stations will be placed on streets, sidewalks and parks, and users will be able to take out bikes based on an as-yet-to-be-designed subscription system. Bikes could be returned and taken out from any station with membership.
There has been a huge boom in bike-share programs recently, and the programs are particularly useful in densely populated cities where commuter and travel distances are small. In other cities, bike-share programs have been low-cost and relatively easy to operate.
NYCDOT predicts that New York’s relatively flat layout and high density will make it an ideal bike-share city. The city hopes to make the large-scale program specific to New York by placing bike stations close together, utilizing existing public spaces, using bike-station designs that do not interfere with subways or road-work and starting the program in the city’s highest density areas. The ideal bikes-share would also target transportation-needy areas, like areas of northwest Brooklyn and Queens where research indicates that insufficient transit results in many commuters driving to work who could easily bike instead.
Cycling itself in New York City is at an all-time reported high, and the NYCDOT reports that cycling accidents have reduced dramatically in recent years due to new facilities and lanes. NYC has over 620 miles of bike lanes. With this program NYCDOT hopes to make the best use of these lanes, and change the way that New Yorkers get around their home.