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NYC gets a bike share!

This has been a big week for NYC cycling!

Photo of a docked Citi Bike from The New York Times

Michael Appleton for The New York Times

On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that Citibank will be sponsoring the city’s bike share program (thereby dubbing the program Citi Bike). The plan is to roll out 10,000 bikes at over 600 docking stations throughout the city by Spring 2013. In Summer 2012, though, the city is only promising operation at partial capacity (as it’s impractical to airdrop 10,000 bikes on the city). At the announcement, Mayor Bloomberg also unveiled the bikes, the docking stations, and the kiosks. Furthermore, bike share demos are being staged throughout May to give folks an opportunity to see the bikes, learn about the system, and ask questions.

By Wednesday, the media were abuzz with the news that a four-hour ride would cost a rider $77. And while this is true, it is against the spirit of a bike share system: it’s meant for short trips (≤5mi) and not all-day outings. Expressed in SAT lingo: Citi Bike:ZipCar::Bike & Roll:Enterprise. Just as you get a ZipCar to drive to IKEA but you rent a car to head down the coast for the weekend, you would get a Citi Bike to go over the Manhattan Bridge to get to Chinatown but you would rent a bike to take a leisurely ride around Manhattan to take in all the sights and have a picnic lunch in Central Park.

On Friday, the city revealed the proposed station map. Other neighborhoods (UES, UWS, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and Sunnyside) will be mapped out later, when bikes are ready to be deployed in those areas. But aside from the lack of stations above 59th Street and below Atlantic Avenue, cyclists noticed one other thing:

Just goes to show you that the bike share is not being forced on anyone: “New Yorkers picked these sites, submitting their ideas in the tens of thousands on the online suggestion map, in community workshops held throughout the service area, in community board feedback sessions and in hundreds of meetings that neighborhood and other organizations held directly with NYC DOT.”

I’m very curious to see how this pans out. Will CUNY folks be more willing to ride a bike to class/work for a $95/year membership (or $60/year for low-income New Yorkers)? There is one station to be placed directly in front of the City Tech entrances. BMCC will be getting a station installed in a public plaza across the street. It looks like there will be two stations right outside Baruch. There’s a proposed station to go in one block from the Grad Center. One block away from the J-School, the city wants to install a station with 59 docks… How will this affect the bike riding habits of CUNY students, staff, and faculty?

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