Bike Share

Transportation Nation

MAP: New York City Sites 420 Bike Share Locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens

Friday, May 11, 2012

New York City has made live its draft maps of bike share stations.  The stations dot all of Manhattan south of Central Park,  Long Island City,  Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant,  Fort Greene,  and Clinton Hill. (See here, for why they won't be in other neighborhoods.)

The full maps are here and explanation of costs here.

The bike share docking stations will extend the reach of the transit system to the far East and West sides of Manhattan, as well as  northern Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which are currently underserved by the subway system.

In those neighborhoods, riders will be able to take a bike share to the 7 train in Long Island City or the L in Williamsburg.   Now, those riders have to take an impossibly long walk, or take the G to either of those trains.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show that bike share is designed to  expand the transit system -- not for recreation. "So you rent a bike, go to work, leave the bike when you get to work, pick it up when you get out of work, leave it when you get home," the Mayor said.

Neighborhoods that currently have no transit connections could be accessed through bike share.  The growing population center of  Williamsburg will be connected now to  and Downtown Brooklyn, as well as Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Still unconnected: Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Windsor Terrace, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, and Prospect Heights as well as the Upper West & Upper East sides.  Those neighborhoods will have to wait until 2013.

"I'm extremely proud to release this plan for the Citi Bike network . New Yorkers created this plan during the past six months, contributing time and expertise in workshops, on-line and in dozens of meetings to discuss and plan the City's newest transportation system," said New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows New Yorkers approve of bike share by a more than two to one margin.  Support has slipped slightly since the program was first announced last October.

The DOT says the "draft maps are the product of hundreds of meetings with community boards, elected officials, members of the public and stakeholders in each district, as well as from some 70,000 station location suggestions and comments on DOT’s bike share Web site," adding that the maps have been presented to local council members and "DOT is currently in the process of reviewing the maps with local community boards in the service area."

For the most part, community board leaders say they've been delighted with the siting process.

The locations are on "wide or underused sidewalks," as well as road space that is current "No Standing" or "No Parking."

Citibike will launch in July, and will cost $95 a year or $9.95 a day to join.  Annual members can ride any bike they want for up to 45 minutes a ride, then usage fees kick in, starting at $2.50 for up to 75 minutes and $9.00 for up to 115 minutes.

Daily members get 30 minutes of free riding, with an hour costing $4 and 90 minutes costing $13.

The DOT cautions:  "Citi Bike is transportation, not recreation. It is designed for short trips and encourages users to return bikes quickly so that others can use them...Think of Citi Bike as a taxi cab: Get one, get there, then dock it. See attached maps for indications of the kind of rides Citi Bike can be used for."

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Transportation Nation

What Bike Share Costs -- A Comparison

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


CORRECTED POST There's been not a little controversy about the cost of New York's bike share since the program was unveiled this week -- much huffing and puffing about how an afternoon's ride would cost you a C-note. The city Department of Transportation notes that bike share is not intended for four-hour rides, any more than a taxi ride should last four hours. If you need a car for four hours, you can rent one. If you need a bike for four hours, you can rent one too -- just not a bike share.

Also responding to the critics: Matt Seaton takes a comparative look in the Guardian Wednesday.

Their point is: this is transportation, not recreation.

But still, New York's rates are among the highest in the world , as far we can tell. The annual fee is $95 -- a bit above most other annual rates, which range from $70 to $80.

The usage fees for annual members, in the chart above, are also high, although NYC annual members get 45 minutes of free riding, unlike riders in Washington, DC, London, Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Minneapolis, who only get 30 minutes of free riding.

And the usage fees for daily members are the highest of all - $4 for the first hour, $13 for the first 90 minutes, compared to a $2.00 and $6.00 fee for most other cities.



Here's a look other annual fees (& daily membership fees) around the world:
New York: $95 ($9.95)
Boston $85 ($5) CLOSES IN WINTER
Denver $80 ($8) CLOSES IN WINTER
Montreal $80 ($7) CLOSES IN WINTER
Washington, DC $75 ($7) -- there's also an $84 annual fee that can be paid out monthly.
London $72 ($1.60)
Minneapolis $65 ($6) CLOSES IN WINTER
Paris $50 ($2.20) -- this level of annual gives you 45 minutes free riding
Mexico City $23 (daily rate N.A.)

The New York bike share annual membership is still cheaper than a monthly MetroCard, as the NYC DOT likes to point out. And with it, you can ride anywhere, anytime, as many rides as you want -- for free, so long as those rides don't exceed 45 minutes. That grace period exceeds the grace period in most other cities. With the exception of Paris, Montreal and Mexico City, charges in all the above cities start at minute 31. (In Paris you can chose between a deluxe membership, which costs about $50, or a regular which costs about $36, and gives you just 30 minute free riding)

NY officials say 97 percent of rides in DC are under the 30 minute free ride there. But if you keep the bike past the grace period, the charges escalate rapidly. The $2.50 cost for the initial usage fee in New York is the highest we could find.

As for next increment: it's $9.00.

NYC DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow says that's still misleading -- because in New York, you can ride for an hour an a quarter for $2.50, and for an hour and three quarters for $9.00.

"These rates are not so easy to compare to each other," Solomonow said. "Some trips are cheaper or more expensive, depending on the specific city, type of membership and length of trip. Some rides are cheaper or more expensive depending on whether they lasted 59:59 or 60:00."

Many, many of you have commented below about whether New York's bike share should ever be used for 90 minutes (mostly, you say no.)

For most one-way rides that people will make after the initial roll-out in Manhattan below 59th Street and parts of Brooklyn and Long Island City,  it shouldn't be a problem to stay under 45 minutes for a one-way trip. You should be able to get most places around that district in under 45 minutes.

New York's transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says the pricing arrangement is a necessary way to keep trips short and bikes in circulation. Here's how she explained it in an email:

"The system is the first unsubsidized bike share system and it is designed to incentivize people to return bikes promptly so there will always a be a bike available for any user who wants one. There is no other system of this size and structure that compares, and instead of costing tens of millions of dollars to implement as budgets are being cut, the system will actually provide a new transportation option and revenue for the city."

"As we have seen in other cities, users primarily use the bike share bikes no longer than the free period. The system works when people return their bikes promptly and incur no additional charges at all. It breaks down if users go looking for a bike but find only empty docking stations because all the bikes are checked out on long rides."

However, when the system expands to Park Slope, Crown Heights,  and the Upper West Side, one can easily imagine a one-way commute of an hour and a quarter. Alta officials have said one-way commutes are frequent in Washington, DC. When it's raining in the morning but nice in the afternoon, a user might want to ride home from, say, Lincoln Center to Crown Heights.

No word yet on whether the system's pricing could be adjusted -- though in Washington, officials have created low-income payment plans and other discount schemes.
[CORRECTED POST: Our initial post inadvertently compared New York's usage rates for daily and short-term members to the usage rates for annual members in other cities. The chart above has the correct rates. We regret the error.]

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Bike Share Backstory: Inside the Wrangling That Saved the System

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The city announced a bike share sponsor earlier this week. But talks sources close to the negotiations say it was a much rockier road to sponsorship than Monday’s happy news conference would suggest. 

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Citibank Is Sponsor of NYC Bike Share, "Citibike." [UPDATED w/Pics and Details]

Monday, May 07, 2012

(Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

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.

(Photo by Andrea Bernstein)


Sample docking station for NYC's Citibike bike share program. (Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

Sample NYC pay station with newly announced sponsorship branding. (Photo by Andrea Bernstein)



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Citibank to Sponsor City's Bike-Share Program

Monday, May 07, 2012

Citibank is the title sponsor of the city's bike share program, which is scheduled to roll out in Manhattan and Brooklyn this summer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday


Transportation Nation

MAP: Where To Find Bike Share in Lower Manhattan

Friday, May 04, 2012

As we've been reporting, New York City DOT is quietly presenting almost final maps of bike share stations.  (We've made an interactive map, showing how many bikes will be at each station, below.)

The City DOT isn't making it easy  -- to see their almost final maps of bike share stations, you have to physically attend a community board meeting.  Jim O'Grady did that -- took a bunch of cell phone photos of slides presented by the DOT -- and we've converted them into a map.

(We're missing a segment, one slide -- so sorry, the area just east of City Hall down to the river. We'll update as soon as we can.)

Some notable highlights:

* You can get pretty close to the World Trade Center -- about a block away -- but not in the security zone.

*There's one near Stuyvesant High School.

*There's one at the Wall Street Ferry dock, and a whole bunch by the Staten Island Ferry.

*There's one next to the Stock Exchange -- but it hasn't yet been approved by the Department of Homeland Security, which controls the area.


We'll be attending as many of these future meetings as we can -- if you go, send us photos! -- and continuing to map them, until the city DOT puts out its own maps.  These maps have yet to get final community board and city sign-off, though we've heard a generally positive reaction from community boards.

The New York Times has this map of midtown bike stations.

Here are the upcoming community board meeting:

  • Manhattan Community Board 1: May 3
  • Manhattan Community Board 2: Transportation Committee, May 8, Full Board, May 24 (DOT presentation not yet scheduled)
  • Manhattan Community Board 4: May 2 (vote on resolution on tentative map)
  • Manhattan Community Board 5: May 31
  • Manhattan Community Board 6: May 17
  • Manhattan Community Board 7: not yet scheduled
  • Brooklyn Community Board 2: information not yet available
  • Brooklyn Community Board 3: Full Board, May 7, Transportation Committee  May 8
  • Brooklyn Community Board 6: May 17 (tentative)

The program is slated to start in July -- with an annual pass costing $95, a weekly pass $25,  and a day pass for $10.  That gets you 45 minutes per ride, with an escalating scale upwards after that.

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Transportation Nation

42 Bike Share Docks for Lower Manhattan Revealed in Semi-Public Rollout

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Slide showing the location of several planned bike share docks in Lower Manhattan. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) The New York City Department of Transportation continues to show community boards in Brooklyn and Manhattan where it's planning to install Bike Share stations in those boroughs.


NYC DOT has promised to post a map of the entire system online once it's done. But the department is sticking by its refusal to release the draft maps, though it's supposed to have the actual program up in running by mid-July, a mere 10 weeks from now.

There is a way to glimpse what the city has in mind, and that's to go to a community board meeting and sit through the department's presentation of bike share locations. Hence our presence, with cell phone camera, at Thursday night's meeting of Community Board 1's Planning and Infrastructure Committee.

We photographed five slides, like the one above, that show where the bike share docks would go around Lower Manhattan. By our count, CB 1 will hold 42 of them.

The locations were whittled down through a series of meetings with department staff and community board members. Kate Fillin-Yeh, director of New York City Bikeshare, said any proposed location that had been red-flagged in a previous meeting did not make the cut.

Of the 42 that remain, twelve would require the removal of parking spaces--"three or four" per location, according to Fillin-Yeh. The stations would also be installed on street sites not used for parking, sidewalks, parks and plazas, and private property.

She said the department tried to spread the the bike docks evenly throughout Lower Manhattan, and place them near subway stations, large institutions like New York Law School, and tourist sites like south Street Seaport and the boat to the Statue of Liberty.

Board members reacted positively to the plan, with some praising the DOT for the way it has run its consultation with the community. The plan will be presented to the full board in the coming weeks.

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Transportation Nation

Bike Sharing Comes to Houston

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bike Share comes to Houston (KUHF photo)

(Houston, TX -- KUHF) Houston is now joining cities like Chicago and Washington, DC in providing bikes for short-term rentals. Riders can buy a yearly membership for $50 or they can purchase a one-day membership directly at the kiosk for $5.

Mayor Annise Parker says the program is starting with just 18 bikes but they'd like to have about 200 bikes by the end of the year.

(Listen to an audio version of this story and see a slide show here.)

"Currently we're just in the downtown area with three locations: Discovery Green, Market Square, and here, so you can do the downtown triangle. But we hope it will be embraced by Houstonians, as it has been in other cities, and we'll be able to expand the system."

The program is operated by the nonprofit organization Houston Bike Share. It's funded through an EPA Climate Showcase grant.  Federal stimulus dollars will be used to expand the program.

Parker says along with helping locals get around without having to get behind the wheel, Bike Share will also give visitors a new way to see Houston.

"I think it's going to be something that the folks who are involved in conventions around the George R. Brown will find very interesting. If they're over in the convention center hotel or at a conference, you can just jump on a bike."

Houston is now one of 15 cities in the country where you can check out a bicycle for a quick trip. The new program is called "B-Cycle," and it's designed to help people get around downtown without having to drive. Officials say the bike share program is part of the city's efforts to cut down on vehicle emissions while helping residents keep fit.

Outside Houston City Hall, a B-cycle representative shows how riders use a card to check out one of the sturdy silver bikes lined up next to a self-serve kiosk. With big fenders and chain guards, riders can safely hop on in a business suit.

State Senator Rodney Ellis was one of the local officials who gave the bikes a tryout.

"It is a very comfortable bike. The key thing is the seat is comfortable. And for those of you who are not into Spandex just yet, it is extremely important."


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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Houston Gets Bike Share, In London's Mayoral Race, It's All About the Bikes, GM CEO Defends SUVs and Tsunami Motorcycle Washes Up on Canadian

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Poor Die More in Car Crashes (Link)

LaHood Convenes Meeting on To Save Dulles Silver Line (Link)as Pressure Grows to Drop Project Labor Agreement (Link)

As Fuel Prices Dip, So Does Fuel Economy in New Cars  (Link)

NY Officials to Add Barriers, Speed Monitoring to Stretch of Parkway Where 7 Died (Link)

NY, 44 Cities Blow Through Smog Standards (Link)

Montana Now One of Eight States That Can Instantly Verify Liability Insurance (Link)

New York's Comptroller Says He'll Block New "Taxi of Tomorrow" Contract Because the New Cabs Aren't Accessible (Link)

West Wing Fanatics, They Reunited the Cast...and Produced This: (Link)

Kate's Photo Essay on All The Things Germany has that You Don't: Fast Trains with Bike Cars, Plenty of Space for Parking Your Bike, Cool Trams (Link)

Houston's Bike Share (photo; Imelda via flickr)


CEO of GM, Dan Akerson, Defends SUVS, Bailout, in Chat with The Takeaway's Celeste Headlee (The Takeaway)

Vancouver's Bus Rapid Transit Greenlighted (The Columbian)

Houston Bike Share Pilot Launches (ahead of NY, SF & Chicago!) (Houston Chronicle)

London's Mayoral Race: It's all About the Bikes...And the Trains (in Shakespearean terms, no less) (NPR)

Benefactor will Fund Transit For Needy Boy Who Got An Agent Fired For Giving Free Rides (SF Chronicle)

SpaceX Rocket Launch Delayed (WMFE)

Chicago's New Red Line Depends on Transpo Bill (Chicago Tribune)

Business Big: Those Who Want Transit on Tappan Zee Either Ignorant or "Pure Obstructionists" (

You Can't Get There From Here -- the NY Times Looks at How Hard it is to Get Between Smaller Cities (NY Times) and Other Ways Business Travel is Hell (NY Times)

And....Motorcycle Washed Away in Japanese Tsuanami Washes Up on Candian Island 4000 Miles Away (Fuji TV via Boston Globe)

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Transportation Nation

San Francisco Poised to Pick Alta to Run Bike Share

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A front view of a bike share station (photo by Kate Hinds)

Alta does it again. If the Board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District votes as recommended, Alta will get a $6 million contract to run San Francisco's regional bike share, adding to its recent acquisitions in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington.

The San Francisco program plans for 500 bikes in SF, with another 500 in the Silicon Valley cities of Palo Alto, San Jose, Mountain View, and Redwood city.

Like Chicago and New York, San Francisco is racing to get its system up and running by this summer.

According to a memo circulated by Jack Broadbent, the group's executive officer:

"Alta was the highest ranked bidder in each of the criteria areas with the exception of cost. Alta has extensive experience in the management and deployment of bicycle sharing systems domestically and internationally. Alta has previously deployed and currently operates bicycle sharing systems in several cities including Montréal (Canada), Washington, D.C. and Boston; and has been chosen to deploy and operate additional bicycle sharing systems in New York City and Chicago.

"Their methodology and approach to the Bay Area deployment leverages these past experiences and was determined by the Panel to be best approach to successfully completing the pilot project."

The New York program doesn't pay any money at all to Alta, instead relying on sponsorships to raise the money to pay for the program. New York has yet to announce the sponsorship for its bike share, but that announcement is expected to come soon.

Hat tip: Streetsblog SF.

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City Finalizing Maps of Bike Share Stations

Monday, April 23, 2012


The city’s Department of Transportation has been quietly shopping around close-to-final maps of locations for bike share stations to community boards in recent weeks.


Transportation Nation

New York City Finalizing Maps of Bike Share Stations

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sample Bike Share Dock (photo: Kate Hinds)


In recent weeks, the New York City Department of Transportation has been quietly presenting close-to-final maps of locations for bike share stations to community boards.  Community Board 4 -- including Times Square and points west,  Community Board 3, in the East Village, and Community Board 2 in Lower Manhattan have seen the maps.

In Community Board 4, the city is looking to put two bike docks near Port Authority, several near Penn Station, at least one on Columbus circle, and a number on the far west side. In Community Board 3, the DOT is looking to site several stations around Astor Place, a popular spot for bar and restaurant patrons, close to NYU and several subway stops.

The city is refusing to release draft maps, saying it will do so in a few weeks time.  (The New York Times wisely snapped a picture of the CB 4 map, you can find it here.)

The DOT has several meetings planned for other community boards, including:

  • Manhattan Community Board 1: May 3
  • Manhattan Community Board 2: Transportation Committee, May 8, Full Board, May 24 (DOT presentation not yet scheduled)
  • Manhattan Community Board 4: May 2 (vote on resolution on tentative map)
  • Manhattan Community Board 5: May 31
  • Manhattan Community Board 6: May 17
  • Manhattan Community Board 7: not yet scheduled
  • Brooklyn Community Board 2: information not yet available
  • Brooklyn Community Board 3: Full Board, May 7, Transportation Committee  May 8
  • Brooklyn Community Board 6: May 17 (tentative)

We'll update with more information as it becomes available.  (And meeting dates and agenda can be confirmed on community board websites:  Manhattan and Brooklyn. )

For the most part, community board leaders have been pleased with the mapping. "I think they did an amazing job," said Susan Stetzer, District Manager of Community Board 3. "I don't understand why they won't share the information."

Wally Rubin, Manager of Community Board 5 in Midtown, which is still finalizing its maps, added "DOT very much wants bike share to succeed, and they're doing their darndest to take input and be careful. People feel good about being asked for input."

Community Board 2's transportation committee saw and approved its maps, but the full board wouldn't approve the locations until a map is available for the full board, and sent the resolution back to committee.  The transportation committee meets next on May 7th.

The city has not put any of the meetings on its bike share website. DOT did not explain why.

The final plan calls for 10,000 bikes at 600 docks around New York City.

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Transportation Nation

Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bike Share, Says Good-bye

Friday, April 20, 2012

Freedman With Boston Mayor Menino at the Bike Share Launch (City of Boston Photo)

Nicole Freedman, who shepherded Boston's bike share from idea to reality, is leaving to run Maine Huts & Trails.  Freedman, a former Olympic cyclist and world champion bicyclist, was once honored by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.  She coined the memorable term "bike share is Zipcar on steroids."

We'll miss you, Nicole!

Here's the good-bye note she sent around.

Dear Friends,

As many of you know already, today is my last day as Director of Bicycle Programs for Mayor Menino and the City of Boston.  As of Tuesday, I will begin my new position as the Executive Director of  Maine Huts and Trails in Kingfield, Maine.

It has been a tremendous honor to serve you all over the last five years. When I began the position in 2007, Mayor Menino pledged to transform Boston into a world-class cycling city.  I am proud of how far we have come and our many accomplishments.

  1. Launching the New Balance Hubway bike share system
  2. Installing 50 miles of bike lane
  3. Earning national recognition by the League of American Bicyclists and Bicycling Magazine
  4. Implementing a model Community Bike Programs which has donated more than 1,000 bicycles
  5. Installing 850 bicycle racks

I am confident that the program will continue to thrive on behalf of the residents and visitors to Boston.  Boston Bikes remains a high priority for the administration.


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Transportation Nation

Boston Bike Share Relaunches Today

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Hubway station (photo by effelarr via Flickr)

After being closed for the winter,  Boston's "New Balance Hubway" officially relaunches today.

This in this morning from the Hubway folks:

"Boston Mayor, Thomas M. Menino,  officially launches the 2012 New Balance Hubway season at noon on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The Mayor will be joined by Nicole Freedman, representatives from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and other Hubway dignitaries at the Boston Public Library Hubway Station to remind us that 'The car is no longer king in Boston.' "

As TN has reported, that station is one of the most popular in the system.

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Transportation Nation

Boston, Denver Bike Shares Back This Week

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Denver bike share station (RTD photo)

After a winter intermission, both Denver and  Boston relaunch their bike shares this week.  The two northern cities (along with Minneapolis and Washington, DC) were among the nation's first bike share programs. Washington, DC's bike share is year-round, and Minneapolis's will start up the first week of April.

Chicago and New York are expected to launch two of the nation's biggest bike shares this summer.   San Francisco is launching a smaller, 500-bike program this summer.

New York is actively planning bike share share station locations, and both New York and Chicago are putting together bike share sponsors.

More soon.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Port Authority Toll Hike Can Stay, For Now; SF To Test Drive Electric Bike Share, and Megabus Too Heavy for NYC?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Top stories on TN: The Senate gave final approval to a four-year authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The world may be falling apart, but at least you'll be safe in your car: that was the theme of ads during the Super Bowl. And: a group of New York officials painted a doomsday scenario if a Republican plan to slash transit funding comes to pass.

Megabus (photo by Anz-i via flickr)

A federal judge denied a request to roll back a toll hike by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- while also refusing to dismiss a lawsuit against the agency. (Star-Ledger)

Meanwhile: New York politicians -- like their colleagues across the Hudson -- want to pass legislation that aims to rein in the Port Authority. (Staten Island Advance)

More unhappiness with recent transportation legislation comes from New York Congressman Nadler, who writes an opinion piece calling the GOP bill "a dagger aimed at the hearts of urban and suburban areas across the country." (The Hill)

Megabus' fleet of double-decker buses exceed the legal weight limit for NYC streets, according to a New York State police study. (DNA Info)

Was Clint Eastwood's "it's halftime in America" Chrysler ad pro-Obama? (Slate, Wall Street Journal)

Hills? No problem! San Francisco will test drive an electric bike share program. (New York Times)

Why does it take decades to build a subway system in the U.S.? Seven reasons, from Salon.

Italy has imposed emergency measures on businesses to conserve gas supplies as freezing weather continues to grip the country and much of Europe. (BBC)

A strike by French aviation workers is now in its second day. (CNN International)

Airline passengers are getting creative about how to save on baggage fees. (New York Times)

Illinois' governor signed a law that allows Chicago to use automatic speed enforcement cameras to monitor drivers around the city's parks and schools. (WBEZ)

To keep people from riding on the roofs of trains, Indonesia will swat them with "brooms drenched in putrid goop." (AP)

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Transportation Nation

Calm Reigns at First Planning Meeting for Bike Share Stations

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Given all the sturm and drang that has accompanied New York's bike lane expansion, you might think the first meeting to discuss where to put 600 bike share station when New York rolls out its bike share program in July, tempers would be hot.

After all, in a place where every inch of space is contested, figuring out where to locate 600 bike share stations is no small task.

But you'd be wrong.

Tuesday night the city held what will be the first of many planning workshops. About 50 people gathered in an overheated room on West 42nd Street to pore over large maps of Community Board 4, which stretches from 14th Street to 59th Street on Manhattan's west side.

People taking part in a NYC DOT-led planning workshop (photo by Kate Hinds)

“We’re very excited,” said Corey Johnson, the chair of CB4. “I’m glad New York is finally catching up to something that has performed quite well in other cities across the country and across the globe.”

That attitude seems typical:  ever since the city put up an online map requesting ideas, more than 8,000 locations have been suggested.

City Department of Transportation employees walked community members through a presentation about the bike share program, then unveiled a large map of the district that had suggested bike share station locations on it. There had already been some vetting.  "We have technical criteria," said DOT policy director Jon Orcutt. "You’re not going to put one that blocks a fire hydrant, you’re not going to block a narrow sidewalk." He said there's no one-size-fits-all approach to station siting. Some will be on wide sidewalks, some will be in the street, some will be in plazas.

Renderings of types of bike share station locations (photo by Kate Hinds)

Corey Johnson said for him, pedestrian space trumped parking. “[Bike share stations] may eliminate a parking space or two on a residential block, but it’s not going to eliminate sidewalk space for pedestrians,” he said. “So is it worth having a dozen bicycles that are easy access on a residential block and give up one or two parking spaces? I believe the answer is yes.”

Orcutt said the DOT had held over 100 meetings about the bike share program so far. "We're talking to property owners, talking to everybody we can, and carving out space here and there," he said. "You can't just say they're all going to be 15 feet from odd-numbered street corners. There's no way. You have to go and plan each single one of these."

Members of the community were invited to put green arrows on the station locations they liked, red on the ones they didn't, and black on locations where they wanted to suggest one. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

So dozens of people gathered around six separate tables and scrutinized the map, block by block. "This specific site, I think, is very challenging," said Ben Donsky, the vice president of the Chelsea Improvement Company, as he put a red arrow on the map at 14th Street and Ninth Avenue. He said there was already scant space for pedestrians to relax, and that the sidewalk there is too narrow. "However, I think there are probably a dozen great locations right nearby."  Richard Gottlieb, who lives on West 44th Street, put a black arrow on West 57th Street. Why?  “West 57th Street is a very busy area and it would strike me as a good place to have a stop. It’s that simple.”

Others were thinking more macro. "I really like the idea of using the bike share as a means of expanding the transportation network," said Tyler Gumpright, who lives in Jackson Heights. He'd like to see stations "both close to existing transit options, like the subway, and putting them a little bit further away from existing transit."

Those long crosstown blocks between Eighth Avenue and the waterfront were also on the mind of Steven Collado, who works in Herald Square. "People will come in from the subway and want to get to say all the way down to the Hudson River or even 11th Avenue, they'd have a long walk. If they had a bike share, they would definitely take advantage of that."

They were singing Orcutt's tune. "One of the places we think this will really serve are the parts of the city are developing fast away from the traditional subway spines, like the waterfronts and other former industrial places," he said, "so you’re seeing a lot of feedback there.   Like ‘hey, it’s really hard to get anywhere from here,' or ‘I can’t get to the next neighborhood without taking a bus that takes all day.’"

Jess Berlin, who lives on the Upper West Side and works near Herald Square, said after the workshop that the experience was valuable. "I really liked the fact that they had a large map that we could really envision how the system would work," she said. She lives in a fifth-floor walk-up, she said, and didn't own a bike because she didn't want to have to carry it up and down stairs.  Bike share "makes someone like me able to have a bike in the city," she said.

Orcutt said the next step is to take all the public feedback and "synthesize it into a recommendation, and then come back to community boards, business improvement districts, electeds, and get further input, make some further adjustments." He said the city would have a final station siting plan by early summer.












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Transportation Nation

Maryland County Explores Bikeshare in the 'Burbs

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Columbia's pathways (photo: Jonathan Wilson)

Leaders in Howard County, Maryland, and  the unincorporated town of Columbia are trying to figure out whether something that seems to be working quite well in more urban areas can be part of the plan going forward in their neck of the woods -- they’re exploring the potential of bike sharing.

The two municipalities have teamed up to apply for for grant money to fund a feasibility study on such a program.

The arrival of a bike sharing program could coincide with major redevelopment in Columbia's downtown, which is currently dominated by a sprawling shopping mall.

"It isn't a traditional downtown with a main street," Columbia Association director of community planning Jane Dembner says. "

But the sprawling retail complex and the expanse of parking lots surrounding it haven’t stopped Columbia, which is about a 30 minute drive from Baltimore and a 45 minute drive from the nation's capital, from regularly being listed as one of the very best places to live in the country.

The town's 100,000 residents have access to some of the best public schools in the nation, and foreclosure and jobless rates are impressively low.

But local leaders believe a bike sharing programs could make things even better.  And there are already reasons to believe that if bike sharing is feasible in a suburban environment at all, Columbia would be the place.

Turn in to any of the residential streets in Columbia and it’s not long before you see some of the paved trails that snake through the neighborhoods.  The trails were created as a selling point when this planned community was conceived by local developer Jim Rouse more than 40 years ago.

"We have 94 miles of pathways that are separated from our roadways. Major cities don’t have that many," Dembner says. "Washington [D.C.] doesn't have that many pathways."

The paved pathways are perfect for bicycling in most spots, but that doesn't mean they're perfect for bicycle commuting.

Some routes contain steep and winding sections that are difficult to navigate on a bicycle, and signage is almost non-existent. Even some locals say it's easy to lose your way.

"For people who know the area, it's in your head -- a mental map, I guess you could say," says Anthony Rizzi, a 17-year-old student at Wilde Lake High School.  "But I know as a freshman doing cross-country I got lost all the time."

Howard County Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty says the county, which is in charge of road improvements in Columbia, will have to invest in better on-road bike lanes to make bike sharing work.

"If you go on our bike trails, you can go all sorts of wonderful places, but you can't necessarily get from here to there," she says.

You can hear the entire WAMU story here.

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Transportation Nation

Bike Share to the Alamo, Santa Claus Bike/Ped Trail, and Other Transit $$

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Alamo (image courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historic Park)

Seems to be grant day for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The feds are handing out $40.8 million for 58 projects giving better transit access to national parks.

Among the grantees are the City of San Antonio, which gets $324,000 to expand bike share to connect the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to the Alamo.

There's also $340,000 to the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, to design a bike and pedestrian trail connecting the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, local schools, and the town of Santa Claus.

The grants are part of the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program, which is described in a press release as "administered by the FTA in partnership with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, the program funds capital and planning expenses for alternative transportation systems, such as shuttle buses and bicycle trails, in national parks and public lands. The goals of the program are to conserve natural, historical and cultural resources, and reduce congestion and pollution."

For a full list of grantees, including Marin County, New York City, and Alaska, click here.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Another Speed Bump For California Bullet Train, Canada Annoyed with U.S. Over Keystone Pipeline, FreshDirect Wants Rail Access

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top stories on TN:
PICS: Haiti’s Transportation Two Years After the Earthquake (Link)
NY MTA Completes Four-Night Shutdown For Repairs Along Stretch Of Busy Subway Line (Link)
Boston Launches App Challenge to Link Transit and Bike Share (Link)
California’s Diesel Decade (Link)
Bloomberg Not Budging on Bike Share, More Bike Lanes (Link)
Mica Praises Romney, Stops Short of Endorsement (Link)

FreshDirect ad on bus stop in NYC (photo by Yodster via Flickr)

The chief executive of California's bullet train project suddenly announced his resignation, just months before construction was supposed to begin. (Los Angeles Times)

Canada is annoyed that pro-environmental groups in the U.S. are delaying approval of a pipeline that would move Canadian oil. (NPR)

Access to rail is a big factor in NYC grocery delivery service FreshDirect's relocation plans. (Crain's New York)

Pennsylvania's governor will unveil his much-awaited plan for dealing with the state's transportation funding shortfall in his budget message Feb. 7 or sooner. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; h/t Stateline)

2011 milestone: for the first time ever, the roughly $2,800 dollars that a household spent at the pump was more than a year’s worth of car payments. (KQED)

Bike share GPS data will help plan NYC's bike lane network. (Streetsblog)

MTA work blitz: after shutting down one subway line this week, NYC's 7 train will be suspended for work for 11 weekends in a row. (Gothamist)


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