This summer New York City will be joining more than 200 other cities by launching its own bike share program. This program is an effort to make our city greener as well as effort at providing more transportation options. The program is a joint effort between the city’s Department of Transportation and Alta Bicycle Share and will be funded through private funding and participant fees. Alta will maintain the system.
The bike share can potentially fill in the gaps in our robust transportation system. Residents who live far away from a bus or train station could possibly take a bike from one kiosk near their home to one closer to a station. Also, residents who miss a bus would have another option rather than the long wait for the next bus. The bike share program is designed for 30 to 45 minute rides. This would be ideal for shopping trip, errands, or a ride to a nearby relative’s house.
The planning for this program has been going on for months and it has been built on a series of community forums and an online system where city residents voiced their opinion about where the bike stations should be located. You can still use their online system to suggest bike share sites all around the city. While all of their community forums are done, you can still attend an open house. See upcoming dates and locations here.
The first phase of the project will involve over 10,000 bikes available at over 600 stations throughout Manhattan below 81st Street and in Brooklyn neighborhoods including Park Slope, Bed-Stuy, and Crown Heights. There will be stations at major locations and in locations that are on the outskirts of the transportation system.
Members will be able to checkout a bike at a kiosk using a card and then drop it off at another kiosk close to their destination. Trips longer than 30 or 45 minutes will incur graduated usage fees. Members will be able to use a cell phone app to find available bikes Bicycles will be available around the clock all year long. . To get a clearer picture, see a video here of the DC bike share program.
Many details are yet to be decided. There is no fee scale yet but organizers promise that annual membership will cost less than a monthly metro card. Members will also be able to opt-in for shorter periods by buying a day pass, for example. There will be a minimum age for participation but it isn’t determined. Also, most members will pay with debit or credit cards but there will be a yet-to-be-designed system whereby members without debit or credit cards can still have access.
Depending on the success of this first phase of the project, there may be additional sites and bikes throughout the city, including sites in Queens neighborhoods. (Don’t forget to suggest sites on the bike share site!)
This doesn’t mean that Queens residents cannot benefit from this healthy and earth-friendly opportunity starting this summer. If you’re a bicycle-lover, you may not have to carry your bike across the East River. It can be terribly inconvenient to go up and down train steps with a bicycle. You may choose to take the train, bus, or ferry and then take a short ride on a bike between sites in Manhattan or Brooklyn, of course. All you have to do is plan ahead! Work out where the kiosks are on your route and hop from one to the other as you stop for brunch, picnics, museum visits. The sky’s the limit!
By: Sandy Jimenez