In May I wrote of the Bike Share Program to be implemented in New York City. The program would make 10,000 bicycles available to those who sign up for short-term or long-term memberships. The bicycles are to be located at 420 sites
throughout the City, with most in Manhattan and some in Brooklyn and Queens. For $95 annually, a member can pick up a bicycle at one location and return it to another in 45 minutes. Long periods will have a surcharge added. The Bike Share program was scheduled to be rolled out in July of this year but hasn’t occurred yet for reasons that are unclear.
First envisioned by a group that came to be called Transportation Alternatives, the Bloomberg administration embraced the concept whole heartedly. Bike lanes in the hundreds of miles have appeared around the city. Pedestrian plazas have been established in the busiest areas. Along the way, and to the chagrin of many, parking spots have been reduced and streets have been narrowed as a traffic slowing measure. Citi Group became a sponsor of the program, called Citi Bikes, and thousands of royal blue Citi bikes have been delivered. Docking stations for the bicycle locations have also been delivered but not put in place yet.
All of this means the roll out of the program is going to occur at the end of this year's warm weather months at best, or be postponed until next year. The latter possibility means the whole program may become subject to the vagaries of the coming NYC Mayoral election. None of the possible candidates have embraced the program as Mayor Bloomberg has. Opposition could lead these candidates to
pull back from the program in various degrees.
Getting the Bike Share program this far has demonstrated that seemingly impossible, even visionary, changes to the way people move around the city can
happen if they are championed from the top. It would be shame if, after all the preparatory work that has been done across the city, the program does not get a chance to prove itself in action. If it turns out that it doesn’t work, the program could be revised or ended, but it is very unlikely that it can be resurrected if it doesn’t get off the ground soon.