An interesting experiment is about to begin in New York City. How it works out is likely to change transportation options and even life-styles for many New York City dwellers. A long-time project of Mayor Bloomberg, the bicycle sharing program is coming to fruition.
The program would make up to 10,000 bicycles available to New Yorkers who sign up for short-term or long-term memberships. While the concept has been in place for awhile, the implementation is about to begin. Last week the city announced the first 420 locations for the Bike Share program. These locations would be places where bicycles could be picked up or returned by those enrolled in the
program. Most of the initial locations are in Manhattan but some are in Brooklyn and Queens. None of the initial locations are in the Bronx.
Membership is $95 annually. Members can pick up a bicycle at one location and return it to another Bike-Share station within 45 minutes. Longer times will incur an additonal fee.
Proponents are excited that a new alternative to public transportation in New York City is about to become available. Opponents worry about additional loss of
parking spaces taken up by the Bike stations. With the price of automobile travel and parking on an increasing spiral, the bicycle option appeals to many people.
The first bicycle stations are set to appear in July of this year. Over the next year, the plan is for up to 10,000 bicycles to be part of the program making it one of the largest such programs in the world. No doubt changes in the heart of the city that have included bike lanes in previously auto-only streets and the closing of some streets for only pedestrian use have been a precursor of the Bike-Share program. For the most part, the bike lanes and pedestrian-only streets have been successful and even popular.
The expectation is for some 600 Bike-Share stations to be created overall. In determining the scope of the program, the New York City Dept. of Transportation conducted multiple meetings with boards and the public and received over 70,000 suggestions for Bike-Share locations. The next year should provide some valuable feedback on this program, both approving and disapproving. It will certainly take a while for everyone – vehicle drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to get used to the program. Ideally it will be a boon for those who wish to travel quickly and efficiently between locations in the city. It will be interesting to see how it is
evaluated a year or so from now. Stay tuned….