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 has found two sponsors to pay for its bike share program, the only large bike share network in the country to operate entirely without government subsidies. When fully implemented in the spring of 2013, New York will have 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, the largest bike share system in North America and one of the largest in the world.
Citibank will be the primary sponsor of the "citibike" bike share program, with a $41 million, 5-year contract. Mastercard will also kick in $6.5 million, and will operate the payment system for the bikes.
"We're getting an entirely new 24/7 transportation network ," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "We are getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money," Bloomberg repeated. "Who thought that that could be done?"
Bloomberg himself presided over a bike share announcement for the first time today at a City Hall plaza news conference adorned by sample blue citibikes and a sample docking station.
But today's celebratory announcement was tempered by an acknowledgment that several neighborhoods in the city won't see bike share until 2013.
"It's going to be a phased deployment," Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at the announcement. "I mean we can't just airdrop 10,000 bikes in. So it will be between August and the Spring of 2013 that we will have the full system."
The city's DOT website says "In 2012, the operating area will include Manhattan south of 59th Street, along with most of Brooklyn north of Bergen Street, and Long Island City in Queens. In the spring of 2013, the system will expand to include parts of the Upper West and East Sides, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights."
Sadik-Khan wouldn't say when the decision was made to to delay deployment in most of Brooklyn.
New York City's bike share program will be called citibike (with a new website)
They are the same model as those in other cities with programs also run by the Alta bicycle share company: baskets in the front, built-in lights in front and back with a thick single bar for the frame. Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the docking stations will be solar powered and wireless, and the program will launch "end of July."
It will cost $95 a year to join the bike share program, $25 for a weekly membership or $9.95 for a 24 membership. Annual members will get to use the bikes for up to 45 minutes at no charge, which daily members will get to use them for up to 30 minutes for free.
After the that the price scale will escalate sharply upwards, with the bikes becoming increasingly expensive the longer they're used. (For example, if you keep the bike 24 hours, it will cost $150) Pricing, meant to encourage short-term, one-way hops that keep the bikes in circulation, is consistent with other cities.
The bank sponsorship makes NYC's bike share stock look a lot like London's where a two tone blue coat marks the Barclay's Bike program. NYC's program will be the biggest in the U.S.