NYC Starts Placing Bike Share Docks

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Signs of the largest bike share program in the United States are starting to appear. New York City has installed the first of 600 bicycle docking stations, which will house 10,000 bikes in much of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The first wave, launching in May, will have about 5,500 bikes and 300 docks.

"We probably have ten in the ground now," the NYC Department of Transportation's Jon Orcutt told Transportation Nation. "We started implementation on Saturday--it's underway. And we'll be moving through the Brooklyn area and then into Manhattan over the next few weeks." Orcutt is a policy director at the NYC DOT and project manager for New York City Bike Share.

They docks are big, solar-powered and, as we've reported in the past, designed to be wayfinding stations for pedestrians who drop off a bike and must navigate a new neighborhoods. See pics of one station from just about every angle imaginable at Brooklyn Spoke.

Orcutt says the biggest docks are being placed near established travel hubs, such as busy subway and bus stops. "We'll have our biggest station in the city at Grand Central Terminal because you have the transit trips as well as the job density," Orcutt said. There will be two side by side stations of 59 docks each outside the terminal, according to the official map.

Orcutt said the NYC DOT is predicting the heaviest bike share use at spots where people already travel most: Midtown and the Financial District.

The NYC DOT, aware that some New Yorkers will soon be finding bike docks where parking spaces used to be, just released a polished 30-page report (pdf) explaining that locations were chosen through a multi-year consultation with neighborhood residents.

The city is being careful to demonstrate that local government groups--community boards, business improvement districts, civic organizations--played a key role in choosing which parking spots will be ceded to a row of blue bikes, or which sidewalks or plazas.

That participatory process has been closely guarded and, as the report demonstrates, well documented over the past two years. Although the NYC DOT held 159 public planning meeting, the city didn't show the public draft maps of the docking station locations until well into the process, and after a reporter snapped a photo of one at a planning meeting, limiting potential opposition to sites that would not end up as bike share stations, anyway.

As our reporting throughout the process revealed, community board representatives were pleased with the process and felt included.

The program will also attempt to right a weakness of other bike share programs: low usage among low-income and non-white residents. At launch, there will be CitiBike stations within one block of all 29 NYC Housing Authority properties in the program area. And NYCHA residents will get a 40 percent discount in the $95 annual membership.

Experience in other cities has shown that the best bike share programs adapt in response to the evolving needs of users. The first wave of 600 stations planned for New York may be just the beginning. They reach only half of Manhattan and leave out plenty of bikeable neighborhoods in the outer boroughs that already see high rates of bike commuting.

If you see a dock in your neighborhood, snap a pic and tweet it at us @transportnation and tell us what you think of the placement.