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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!