Bike Share Will Redefine New York

MYD Transportation Chair Josef Szende trying out Melbourne's bike sharing system earlier this year; the same system will be coming to New York in the summer of 2012.

New York is on the cusp of a new form of transportation called “bike share.” This has the potential to redefine the typical way of moving around the city from the crowded underground subway to the care-free bike on the street.

MYD went to Manhattan Community Board 8 last Wednesday to hear about the new system from Jon Orcutt, the Policy Director for the City’s Department of Transportation. We expected to have to defend the system but Mr. Orcutt did such a good job of selling it that the bike-hostile Upper East Side community board actually responded to the plan warmly.

The system will have 10,000 bikes at 600 kiosks around the city from 79th Street in Manhattan all the way to the Battery and in Brooklyn from Greenpoint to Prospect Park.

New Yorkers can buy a membership for less than $100 and will be able to use any bike for a period of 30 minutes or less as many times as they want during a year. Members can take longer trips but will be charged more and more for taking the bikes out for long rides (this encourages people to return bikes and keep them in the system). People will only have to bring their own helmet and can ride free of the hassle of locking, storing, and maintaining a bike.

Visitors will be able to buy daily memberships that will let them take out bikes for 30 minute periods as many times as they want within 24 hours.

The City has given Alta Bicycle Share the right to install and operate the system and in exchange they will keep a portion of the profits from system use and advertising. Alta already operates the systems in use in Washington DC, Boston, and Melbourne (Australia); they will bring their tried and true system to the city using the same model of bicycle and the same charging system.

The timeline from now until the planned launch next summer is: to continue to meet with Community Boards this fall, design the system over the winter, test it in the spring with a few mini-pilots, and launch the full program next summer.

You can help by getting involved with your Community Board’s transportation committee to help choose where to locate bike sharing stations. Find your Community Board here and find out more about getting involved through the Community Board Join-up Jamboree or through your Borough President. You can also suggest bike sharing station locations here.

Any way you choose to get involved, you’ll be part of a great new asset for New York. Bike share is going to make the City more accessible and more fun than ever before!