New York City to Issue Bike Share Request for Proposals

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(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New York City's Department of Transportation is about to issue a request for proposals for the largest bike-share program in the U.S., following Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC -- all of which have installed large scale bike share programs.

With greater density than any of those cities, New York believes it can make a profit.

New York City's transportation commissioner wouldn't comment on the details of the request for proposals, to be released Wednesday morning.  But Janette Sadik-Khan frequently speaks at conferences promoting the idea of bike share.

“We’re ideal for it," Sadik-Khan says. "We have the density. We’re flat.  Eighty one percent of people in the central business district of Manhattan don’t own a car.  In this age of  transit cuts, this is an ideal way to add to New York's transportation system."

The city is looking to set up a twenty-four hour network of around 10,000 bikes, with the entire bill footed by the private sector, but with the city sharing in any revenues.  In other cities with bike shares, sponsorships and advertising help pay for the bikes.  Earlier generations of bike share in many European cities required subsidies, but the city believes that wireless technology, gps, and solar-powered bike stations, a system in New York can be run far more efficiently.

"New York is made for bike share," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives,"  so this announcement is very exciting. The characteristics that make bicycling an everyday form of transportation, New York has in spades: density, flat terrain, temperate climate, lots of short trips and an on the go lifestyle. This nimble and inexpensive way to get around will fit easily into New Yorkers’ constantly shifting errands and schedules."

The city hopes for the system to be running in 2012.  In the past year Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC have launched bike shares, and Boston is preparing to start one soon.  Montreal was the first North American City to have bike share, which is up and running in dozens of European cities.