Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
New York City's transportation chief, Janette Sadik-Khan, will announce the selection of a vendor to run its 10,000-bike bike share system today. The city has been promising it would make the announcement in summer, 2011 -- which, by the calendar, if not convention, ends next week.
A pair of articles in this weekend's NY Times signal the impending announcement will arrive under the most favorable PR conditions possible, a stark change from previous press coverage of bike share.
Saturday's Times reported that the city council -- which has no official role in the selection process or approval of the selection -- would be holding city-sanctioned hearings on bike share. And on Sunday, columnist Frank Bruni penned a front-page Sunday Review article titled "Bicycle Visionary" with a huge graphic that said "thank you," and went on to detail all the ways in which he thought transportation chief Janette Sadik-Khan, backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had made life better in New York City.
You cannot make this stuff up.
(For more on the goddess/zealot split in thinking about Sadik-Khan, see my Marketplace story from last winter here)
Both Sadik-Khan and the Mayor were roiled by several tough profiles last spring, and a lawsuit with some juice behind it asking for the removal of a bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect West. New York Magazine wrote a lengthy feature giving significant voice to bike lane critics, and a Times profile in March led with an anecdote in which former Rep. Anthony Weiner promised to rip out all the big lanes when he was elected Mayor.
(Did I just tell you, you cannot make this stuff up?)
But the lawsuit was dismissed, bike lanes' popularity continues to rise to landslide levels, a relatively mild summer has fueled an increase in bike riding, and now Frank Bruni goes for a spin with Sadik-Khan and it seems nothing could be more fun than a ride with the transpo commish on one of the city's new bike lanes.
Not only that, but Boston's launch of its Hubway bike share seems to have gone off without a hitch, and Capitol Bikeshare in Washington is already looking to expand because of demand.
Officials confirm an announcement for New York City is coming very, very soon. The bike share itself is expected to launch mid-2012. Keep an eye on this space.