New York City is launching a visionary bike share system in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn in 2012 that’s already being called a model for the country.
By next summer, NYC will have the largest bike share program in the US, with 10,000 bicycles parked at 600 stations. And that’s just for starters.
New Yorkers and visitors will be able to pick up a bike at any station, 24 hours a day, and ride to a drop-off station near their destination. Smartphone apps will allow users to find out about bike and station availability in real-time. And bike share stations will be solar-powered.
NYC’s Dept. of Transportation has plans for 1800 miles of bikelanes on streets, in parks and along paths, by 2030. They say commuter cycling has more than doubled in the past five years and rose 13% from 2009-2010, when it added 200 miles of bike lanes.
Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. will develop and operate the privately funded system, which will be funded through sponsorships and memberships.
An annual membership will cost less than a monthly unlimited MetroCard, which is used for subways and buses, and currently costs $104. Visitors will be able to buy daily and weekly memberships.
Members will be able to use the system as much as they want for 30-45 minute trips. For longer trips, members will be charged a small, graduated usage fee. Exact rates have yet to be determined.
The City says streets are the safest in recorded history. Cycling injury and fatality rates have fallen or remained the same even as the number of cyclists has more than doubled, giving credence to the theory that a critical mass of cyclists on the roads improves awareness and caution for all riders.
Alta Bicycle Share estimates that more than 200 green jobs will be created by locally sourcing maintenance and support for the system.
Alta manages similar systems in Boston, Washington D.C. and Melbourne, Australia, and is working on bike share feasibility studies for Providence, RI, Seattle, WA, and Jackson Hole, WY.
Capital Bikeshare, Washington DC’s program, and the first in North America, just finished its first year. It has 1100 bikes at 114 stations and is considered a huge success.
Bike Share programs are increasing popular around the world. People can ride bikes without keeping them in small apartments and don’t have to worry about them being stolen. It alleviates congestion on the streets and mass transit and reduces pollution, and fights obesity by making it easy for people to get the exercise they need.