A bike lane being built in Chicago, June 2011 (photo courtesy of Chicago Bicycle Program)
UPDATED 4:37PM: In an ambitious move, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced today it would have bike share up and running by next summer, with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations. Another 2,000 bikes would be added in summer 2014.
In its RFP, the city said initial funding for the program will come from federal grants, and the "program will be self-sustaining through member and user fees, as well as advertising and sponsorship." Responses to the RFP are due on October 25.
That's a furious pace compared to New York, which issued an RFP last November and announced the vendor last week. New York's program, with 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, will also be up and running next summer.
The Chicago story was first broken by the Chicago Sun-Times, which said,
“Chicago would have 3,000 bicycles to rent from 300 stations by next summer — with no charge for the first 30 minutes — under an ambitious plan, announced Wednesday, aimed at making cycling a “new transit option….Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein are looking for an operator to offer 3,000 bikes at 300 stations by next summer and 5,000 bikes at 500 stations by 2014.”
Shortly afterwards, Klein tweeted out the response "Yes!!" to the tweets: "some big bike sharing news coming out of Chicago today," and then RT: Is that true?
These are heady days for urban bike share programs. Boston's bike share, Hubway, launched in July. On Tuesday, DC's Capital Bikeshare turned one year old -- and hit its one millionth ride.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel -- himself a bike rider and a transit-user -- has consistently said he wanted a bike share program.