Free bike hire a success on car-free New York Island

Uptake has tripled since launch

The promise of free bike hire every Friday on New York’s car-free Governors Island has proved extremely popular. The free bikes are available every Friday until October 4th and since launching in June, the experimental scheme known as Free Bike Fridays, has really taken off. Use has more than tripled since its launch, going from 120 daily bike renters to more than 400.

It is run by experienced cycle hire company Bike and Roll™. On Saturdays and Sundays, adult and children's bikes can be rented for five dollars for 30 minutes. Bike and Roll™ will also rent four-person bike surreys, children's bike trailers, wagons and other bike accessories. Sponsors of Free Bike Fridays are Transport Alternatives, a non-profit organization that lobbies for better cycling walking and public transport provision in the US

The city authorities are keen to emphasise Free Bike Fridays are not just a gimmick:  "Spaces like Governors Island serve as great training areas for the next generation of New York City cyclists," said City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "This summer the Island will also serve as a great testing ground - we'll be evaluating the bike share program to see if it is something that may be successful in other parts of the city."

2007 saw Governors Island first open to bikes and cycling has quickly become one of the Island's most popular activities. The Island offers more than 1 mile of car free biking with spectacular views of the New YorkHarbor and Statue of Liberty.

Free rental is limited to one hour at a time and visitors must bring photo ID or a credit card. Helmets are required for children under 14 but are available for all visitors. If you are under 18, riders must have an adult sign a waiver.

Another recently completed bike share demonstration scheme was the New York Bike Share Project, which aims ultimately to bring a Paris-style hire setup to the city. It ran from 10th to 14th July. And the NYC Department of Transportation is currently working to provide free bicycle rentals at Summer Streets in order to boost bicycle-riding along the 90 blocks of car-free streets.

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