New York City is about to embark on one of the most ambitious bike share programs in the world this month. Some 10,000 bicycles will be available at 600 bike parking stations around Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. These will be accessible by card holders who will benefit from free trips in some cases. These bikes are not “shared” any more than a taxi is “shared”. Each rider will have exclusive use of the bicycle for a selected trip. “Bike share is designed to complement and extend the reach of the city’s existing transit network,” said Nicole Garcia, spokesperson for NYCDOT (New York City Department of Transportation). “New Yorkers picked those sites, submitting their ideas in the tens of thousands in community workshops held throughout the service area.”
The company selected by DOT to run the program city is Alta Bike Share, operating as NYC Bike Share LLC and underwritten by Citi Bank and Master Card at no cost to the city. Alta has experience in Boston, Denver, Minneapolis and Washington DC. The Washington Bike Share was extensively scrutinized in a 78 page report by LDA Consultants of Washington DC released on June 14, 2012. It found that the system provided easier, faster access to a wider range of destinations with over half of the trips for non-work purposes, such as appointments, meetings, lunch and dinner engagements, doctor’s visits (a healthy way to get there and possibly avoid the next one) and similar occasions. Bike share increased use of bicycling and reduced use of privately owned automobiles and taxis. Over $800 a year was saved in travel costs while 44% were new “induced” trips which would not otherwise have been taken by another mode of travel. The full report is available on line from our own New York based Transportation Alternatives at http://www.transalt.org Transportation Alternatives, which has led an immense effort over many decades to provide for the safety, convenience and delight for those of us on foot, heartily commended Bike Share as “an affordable and convenient new option to New York City’s menu of transportation choices.”
The WestView neighborhood will be extensively well served with over 40 stations. In addition to those at Union Square, Washington Square, NYU, the New School, Pier 40 and other trip generators, there will be strings of stations, some as close as four blocks apart, along the dedicated bike lanes in the Hudson River Park and on Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Perhaps the most useful one will be on Ninth Avenue, north of 14th Street adjacent to the recently opened Le Pain Quotidien, nestled among chairs and tables on a pedestrian plaza, just a block from the High Line. This is also the northern terminus of the proposed square to stretch from Gansevoort to West 14th Street (see WestView November 2011).
From a personal standpoint, we can become bike users without the expense of buying one, hauling it up and down stairs, taking up living space in an already crowed apartment, being denied elevator access and finding a place to lock it with a very heavy chain. All of us should benefit from less noise, reduced air pollution, improved health and a greater pleasure of experiencing our magnificent city from this important achievement by the city.