NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, flanked by DOT officials Lori Ardito and Joseph Jarrin (photo by Kate Hinds)
The Upper West Side of Manhattan won't see bike share until June 2013. That's according to New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, in testimony before the New York City Council Tuesday.
The date isn't exactly a surprise -- the city acknowledged at the launch of its Citi Bike program that some neighborhoods won't see bike share until next spring, but the June date puts it at the outer edge of that timeline.
Sadik-Khan also defended the cost of the program, noting that an annual membership in New York gives riders 45 minutes of free riding compared to 30 minutes in London. And she pointed out that New York's is "a privately operated system" while most other city's bike shares are not.
In other questioning, Queens council member Leroy Comrie wanted to know what Citibank's $47.5 million will be used for. Sadik-Khan told him "it's going to pay for the purchase of the bikes, the stations, the operator that is going to be servicing the bikes 24/7, rebalancing the bikes, moving them around the city -- so all of that money is going to pay for the operation of that system." She added that the program will bring about 200 jobs to Brooklyn. "The initial launch site will be in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then we will be doing the permanent facility (which) will be located at Sunset Park, 53rd and 3rd."
On other subjects, Jimmy Vacca, who chairs the transportation committee, asked the commissioner what was happening with plans to privatize parking meters -- would people be laid off? Would we have dynamic pricing? Sadik-Khan said it's in the very early stages and the city is just putting out feelers by issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). "We've agreed to study the possibility of a public/private partnership for our parking program to see if there are opportunities for further improvement," she said, "but I would say that we run the most efficient and effective system in the country; we have a 99% uptake in terms of operability of our Muni Meters, and so we're thrilled with the performance of our programs to date, but again, we are checking to see...if there are options that could provide other, better service for New Yorkers (but) the benchmark is a high one."
She added that the feedback from the RFQ will determine whether or not the city moves forward with actual procurement. (Side note regarding NYC's parking meter program: 70% of parking meter revenue comes from credit cards.)
Sadik-Khan was also asked about a parking sensor pilot program on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx; she said the city was still in the middle of the pilot and would evaluate it after it was done.
Peter Koo, who represents Flushing, said bikes are chained everywhere in the neighborhood; the commissioner was sympathetic. "We've increased the speed with which we've put bike racks out there," she said. "We have over 13,000 racks out there right now, we continue to do more, but there are some parts of the city where if you stop walking for a second someone is going to chain a bike to you," Sadik-Khan said, saying that she knew the demand for parking was high. "We have to find a place for them to park!" Koo echoed, who added that he'd seen garages offering $8 a day bicycle parking. "It's really expensive! You can take the subway for $5 a day!"
"Well, for $9.95 a day, you can have a bike share bike ," Sadik-Kahn countered.
Following the hearing, reporters asked the commissioner about residential parking permits. Residents of the downtown Brooklyn neighborhood where the Barclays Center is opening this September have been pushing for a residential parking permit program. But it would require state legislation to enact, and Sadik-Khan said even after legislation cleared Albany, it would take nine months to get such a program off the ground.
Sadik-Khan also expressed support for legislation that would hold business owners accountable for delivery cyclists who don't follow traffic laws, and said she's working with the New York City Council to craft it.