The New York City active transportation community has a reason to celebrate after the Department of Transportation requested a proposal to install a big scale bike share program in early 2012.
Specific details regarding the system are still under lock and key, although further announcements are expected soon.
“We applaud all programs designed to get more people on bikes, and we hope to see a jump of new riders on the street with the convenience the bike share program will offer,” said Barbara Ross of Times Up!, a New York City-based cycling advocacy and environmental group.
“We envision the corporate bike share program as a stepping stone to getting New Yorkers excited about cycling," she explained, "and then move toward owning their own bike and joining in the cycling community’s continual efforts for an increase in the number of safe, protected bike lanes.”
The private sector will fund the bike share program for the first five years. It is expected to set up 600 kiosks that will secure a total of 10,000 bicycles throughout the city streets.
Transportation Alternatives are a non-profit advocacy group who work for better public walking, cycling and public transportation in New York City. They recently estimated that more than 230,000 people rode their bikes on the city streets daily last year, up 28 per cent from 2008. The organisation believe the increase in cycling transportation is due to the 145 km of new bike lanes, and new on-street bicycle parking installed last year. The increase can also be attributed to a government push behind city-wide cycling.
The bike share program could be a huge success, given that sheer size of New York City’s population, which currently sits at more than eight million and growing. It has been reported that some eighty per cent of people in the central business district of Manhattan don’t own a car and travel either by public transport, walking or cycling. Furthermore, Ross believes that the bike share program could offer the city’s large number of tourists a green transportation option for sightseeing.
Times Up! will continue to offer low-cost and recycled bicycles for purchase, along with complimentary classes and workshops to teach cyclists how to maintain their bicycles. “It is important to continue to support this type of grassroots effort in order to grow community, foster a sense of ownership and develop more responsible cyclists,” Ross said.
Bike share programs are fully functioning in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Montreal. North American cities that have recently adopted a bike share system include Denver, Washington DC, Minneapolis and Toronto.