Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
New York City Bike Share, delayed from its initial summer, 2012 launch, is being delayed again. The city is now setting a May, 2013 launch date. Officials are citing damage from storm Sandy.
According to a DOT press release: "Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge flooded NYCBS’s facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River, and where about two-thirds of the system’s equipment had been stored before the Oct. 29 storm. While portions of the system’s equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, many parts of the system containing electrical components must have individual parts refurbished or replaced.
"NYCBS is currently working to identify, repair and replace these damaged parts, aided through insurance and supplemented by equipment that wasn’t stored at the Navy Yard, as well as by additional equipment from its supplier and from elsewhere in the delivery pipeline."
The bike share was initially scheduled for July, then August, then delayed until March 2013. Bike share systems in Chicago, San Francisco, and an expansion in Washington have also been delayed. All four cities share a vendor, Alta Bike Share.
Launching bike share has been a part of the city's PlaNYC, a blueprint for reducing the city's carbon footprint and combating climate change. Climate change has been cited as a reason for Sandy's intensity and destruction.
The city also says some neighborhoods won't get bike share even at the newly delayed launch date.
"The timeline will affect the phasing for neighborhoods in the initial launch area. The 5,500 bikes will be located in the densest and most geographically contiguous parts of the service area in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in Brooklyn as work continues to extend to 7,000 bikes in the remaining parts of the Brooklyn service area and into Long Island City, Queens, by the end of 2013. Details will be announced as planning continues. And while planning is underway to launch the initial system in May, we remain committed to bringing the system to 10,000 bikes."
In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director, Paul Steely White, was philosophical. “New Yorkers are eager for this new transportation choice but we all know the damage Hurricane Sandy wrought on our city," Steely White said. "Every day, a new cost is added to the toll of destruction, and the damage to the bike share equipment is merely the latest. We’re thankful the storm spared so much of the equipment and grateful to see the program will still launch in the spring.”
Tri-State Transportation campaign offered a more grimly sanguine twist: "If a 150 percent increase in bicycling over the East River bridges in the days after the storm is any indication, bike share will help New York City’s residents and commuters weather the next storm even better."