New York City’s public bike share program is set to launch in July. The transportation program will provide New York City residents in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn access to 10,000 bicycles spread over 600 docking stations. The program is heavily subsidized by Citi Group, the American multinational financial service corporation, and is set to become the largest public share system in the US.
Citi’s $41 million agreement means New York City’s bike sharing will be provided at a low cost to all riders, and at no cost to taxpayers in the Big Apple.
Alta Bicycle Share will provide the bikes and run the program, while the city will split any profits with the operator. “The idea behind bike share is simple — give people one more way to get around town,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’re able to create this new option at no cost to taxpayers because of the commitment of an institution with a 200 years tradition in New York: Citigroup. The new Citi Bikes will be an affordable, entirely new, 24/7 transportation network that will help New Yorkers get where they’re going faster. When the walk seems a little far, New Yorkers can choose to skip the hike, and take a bike.”
The City of New York selected Alta Bicycle Share to operate the system last September, while also beginning a search for a program sponsor. After discussions with a variety of large companies, Alta and the City were able to create a partnership with Citi for the primary sponsorship of the program. Alta Bicycle Share has created a New York-based subsidiary called NYC Bike Share.
The idea for this service is to provide an efficient transportation option for short trips that are too far to walk, but short enough that a subway, taxi, or livery might be less efficient or more costly. At present New Yorkers currently make many short trips each day — 54 percent of all trips are actually less than two miles, and the Citi Bikes will improve access to the subway and allow New Yorkers access to bikes without worrying about bike parking or storage.
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Local riders are encouraged to see this program roll forward. “We think that 10,000 easily accessible bikes, conveniently located, will dramatically alter the behavior of New Yorkers, and we don't think it will take that long,” Ellen Jaffe, president of the New York Cycle Club told BikeRadar. “The program is simply that attractive. With Citi Bike and broader bike usage, we see a coming acceptance of cycling as serious, viable transportation across the general population.”
The installation of stations will begin in late July. These will be solar-powered, wireless docking stations that will be located on sidewalks, curbside road space, plazas and other locations suggested through the community process. Each station will be able to accommodate between 15 and 60 bikes. The self-contained stations require no utility connections and can be installed in minutes.
The system is also designed to be affordable, with an annual membership cost of $95, less than the cost of a single monthly unlimited Metro Card. There will also be options for day and weekly memberships. Members must be at least 16 years old and are entitled to unlimited use of the system for individual bike trips of up to 45 minutes. Members using the Citi Bikes for longer periods will be charged a graduated fee.
Each bike will be equipped with a bell and both front and rear lights, and each bike will be inscribed with a safety message encouraging helmet use; cautioning riders to yield to pedestrians, avoid riding on sidewalks, ride with traffic and to obey all traffic lights and signs.
Of course, the best safety could be the strength in numbers. “This will inevitably make New York City a much more bike friendly town,” said Jaffe.