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WANTED: Bike Share in New York City!
An image from the DOT-run program, Summer Streets. Certain streets are closed to cars on some Saturays in the City.

An image from the DOT-run program, Summer Streets. Certain streets are closed to cars on some Satudrays in the City.

New York City’s Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for private companies to provide a bike share system for the city with hopes of implementation by the spring of 2012. The bike share system would follow such cities as Montreal, Washington, D.C., and Paris and augment Sadik-Khan’s suncess in installing 250 miles of additional bikes lanes in the five boroughs.  The key features of the new “public transportation system” will include: durable bicycles and docking stations “to provide convenient and inexpensive mobility twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year,” according to the press release. DOT sees bike sharing as useful for trips under three miles and as a congestion-reducing, green transit option.

The RFP calls for a private company to “bear all the cost and responsibilities for the system during an initial five-year period while sharing revenues with the city, and with no taxpayer funds being used for the system’s implementation, upkeep or maintenance.”

Sadik-Khan says the high number of short trips in New York City (50 percent are under two miles), the city’s residential and commercial density, and its relatively flat geography make it an ideal place for a bike share system. The RFP does not state the number of bikes nor the location of stations New Yorkers and visitors can expect, but the press release does say:

“. . .  preliminary City research indicates that a financially self-sustaining program could include Manhattan south of 60th Street and surrounding neighborhoods. DOT is particularly interested in systems that span more than one borough and that make the best use of the city’s growing bicycle network.”

It does appear that bike share stations will be densely located every few blocks, allowing for easy pick-up and drop-off. We about wrote the importance of a high density of bike locations in a recent post in attracting riders and sufficiently redistributing bikes. The system will likely be similar to existing BIXI bike share systems. The public can purchase memberships for an unlimited number of 30-minute trips each day at no additional cost. Trips that take longer than 30 minutes would be assessed an additional small charge. Users would use smartcards to release bikes from the docking station.

Congratulations to New York City for another exciting initiative to improve the quality of life for its residents!

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  • Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It is true that installing bike lanes or bike systems alone is not enough; these efforts to increase cycling in a city need to be complemented by policies, educational initiatives and well-designed pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly infrastructure to make safety a priority. We are confident that New York City will show sensitivity and thoughtfulness to these issues so that it will continue to strive to be a city for people, not cars.

    Erica Schlaikjer
    Managing Editor

  • DrDaveNYC

    My wife was hit by a typical NYC cyclist and immediately required brain surgery. The accident was near fatal & the recovery took years. Her accident was far from atypical as she was slammed into at high speed while crossing a Central Park roadway at a green light. Her head hit the concrete curb and she blacked out with blood dripping from her open mouth. Had she not been minutes away from a Level 1 trauma hospital she would be a long forgotten statistic. Just another victim of a reckless NYC cyclist.

    For all it’s candy coated political correctness & college town nostalgic dreams, cycling in Manhattan’s over-congested streets is dangerous & often out of control. Not the least of which it is unregulated, unenforced & totally uninsured. My wife’s brain surgery alone cost $15,000 which was just the tip of the medical bills we faced.

    NYC cyclists rarely use bike lanes, ride in any direction they please, yell at pedestrians to get out of the way and basically are on power trips with no regard for anyone. There is even an ever growing, non-gender specific, macho cyclist subculture that promotes bikes without brakes & gears…mimicking the urban warrior professional bike messengers from the 80s & 90s who didn’t want their preferred Shimano parts stripped. People are shelling out thousands for these dangerous configurations in order to stand out and look cool…in the eyes of their fellow cyclists, of course. Their unwitting victims have a completely different viewpoint after impact.

    So for all the idealism, egos and fanaticism behind this project it remains totally impractical for Manhattan. Yes it works in places like Paris or small towns like Boston & Denver where there are large swaths of open space. Manhattan is way too congested requiring vast endless fleets of motorized vehicles to supply it’s enormous hunger and thirst that makes it …Manhattan.

    If anything, the wunderkinds of the Bloomberg administration should be real thinkers instead of trying to imitate others. NYC should partner with Google on a Shweeb monorail system that allows short distance cyclists to be above and away from the rest of us. That would be forward thinking instead of dragging us down into the gutter where more victims like my wife are guaranteed to wind up.

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