New York needs its very own bike share scheme, according to transport campaigners in the city. Over the last week the New York Bike Share Project has run a pilot project in Manhattan, providing free cycles for city dwellers and tourists alike.
Bikes were available from a shop in Kenmare Street, Lower Manhattan from July 7 to 11. Those taking part were allowed to use their vehicle for up to 30 minutes. Some rode to "sister sites". Others simply took the opportunity to do some sightseeing, and brought the bike back to its point of origin. Bike sharing schemes are seen as a solution to congestion, as they can help persuade commuters to leave their cars at home.The New York pilot was the brainchild of the Forum for Urban Design, which is also calling on people to contribute ideas on how to get a cycle share scheme up and running in the city.
Its executive director David Haskell told Reuters: "The idea here is to give New Yorkers a very clear and splashy understanding of how these programs already work in Europe.
"Bike sharing is a total reality, not an urban designer's fantasy,"
An average of 30 people a day took a bike for a spin over the five days of the New York pilot, organisers said. The Forum's initial proposal is for rental bicycles to be stationed throughout the city. The first half hour use would be free, and there would be a small charge after that.
The set-up and excess running costs could be met by providing advertising space on the bikes, or at the stations where they are stored between use.
This idea has worked well in Europe and advertising giant Clear Channel has been one of the sponsors of the New York project. New York's Department of Transportation has already undertaken to provide more cycle lanes, but it's clearly early days.
The Manhattan centre, provided by the Storefront for Art and Architecture, also featured an exhibition about various European cities which now have cycle share schemes.
From July 15 in France, Parisians will be able to rent one of 10,000 bikes parked at 750 new stations built especially for the project in the capital.Paris' bike rental service will be the biggest of its kind when it launches in a few days, but there are already successful projects in cities including Stockholm in Sweden, Lyon in France, and Barcelona in Spain. In Stockholm a rental project was introduced after a congestion charge experiment which saw drivers paying to drive into the centre. The charge scheme, which was piloted in 2006, will restart on August 1 this year, after a city-wide referendum backed the plans. In the UK, London's congestion charge has seen traffic levels in the centre fall by about 25 per cent. But although cycling in the city has increased by 83 per cent since the fee was introduced, only one in 20 Londoners regularly travel by bike.
To find out more about the New York experiment visit www.nybikeshare.org