Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of New Tech City, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get New Tech City shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
Bike Share. The New Corporate Perk.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 12:39 PM
The bikes aren't even on the street yet, but New York businesses are planning for the launch of bike share later this month.
While some small storekeepers are bemoaning the big gray docking stations because they take up parking spaces for customers or limit delivery space, larger businesses are taking a rosy view of the city's new transit option.
There isn't even an option to buy a corporate membership yet, but that hasn't stopped companies from asking about it. Dani Simons, director of marketing for New York Citi Bike Share, said, “We’ve heard from over 30 businesses already that they would really like to buy Citi Bike as a perk or as a health and wellness benefit for their employees.”
One of those companies is 'Wichcraft, the sandwich shop chain with about 400 employees. Company spokesperson Ellen Kim said her company is seriously considering corporate memberships, possibly for the whole staff, but especially for delivery staff as a way to attract more applicants. "Currently as we hire delivery staff, they must have bikes... so we think [bike share] opens us up to a broader pool of people" who don't need to own their own rides, she said.
Other businesses with multiple locations are looking forward to putting bikes to use on the job. The program allows members to check out a bike at one self-serve kiosk and return it at any other kiosk around the city. It's a new form of public transportation, but it's also a healthy habit, and maybe recreation.
Ashley Cotton, senior vice president of the real estate firm Forest City Ratner, said bike share will make it easier to get back and forth from worksite and head office. "Our construction division is particularly looking forward to biking to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where our modular housing factory is currently under development," she said.
Her firm develops and leases large commercial properties. From that vantage, bike share is a bonus. "When you are locating housing, offices, or shopping destinations you are always thinking about transit, transit, transit. And so, in addition to subways and buses and other types of ways to get around, we think bike share can be a great amenity for our tenants."
Some non-profits are also looking to buy annual memberships for their employees, including the Regional Plan Association.
The first phase of Citi Bike launches on Memorial Day for people who bought annual memberships online in advance. There will be 330 docking stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn and 6,000 bikes. More than 10,000 people have signed up so far.