Monday, May 06, 2013
New York City hasn't even finished laying down the 330 docking stations for its impending bike share program, but anticipation is spanning oceans. A Belgian company has released the first "live" mobile app for NYC bike share users, before there are any users. Take it as a sign of what's to come when the largest bike sharing program in the nation launches later this month.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
UPDATE 6:05 p.m. ET: Instead of a bike rack, a massive barricade of rock now sits in front of a tony apartment building in the West Village--a building that filed the first lawsuit against NYC's new bike share program. But it's not clear who put the rock there or why.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Changing the face of city sidewalks touches a visceral nerve for neighbors. So it's no surprise that as New York City prepares for the launch of a bike sharing program people are speaking out.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
By Kate Hinds
A bike share docking station came to Soho on Tuesday. Camera in hand, we went to check it out.
Monday, April 08, 2013
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.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
By Kate Hinds
New Yorkers, meet your Citi Bike station locations. Even more closely placed than your neighborhood Starbucks. Beginning next month, you'll be able to pick up and drop off bikes from Central Park South to Barclays Center. Annual members will get 45 minutes of free riding, daily members 30 minutes.
The New York City Department of Transportation has released an interactive map showing the draft locations of 293 stations located across Manhattan (below Central Park) and across a swath of Brooklyn through Fort Greene. (That 293 is down a bit from last year's projected launch of 420 stations.) Gray dots show the location of future docking stations. The DOT's website says it will "continue to work with New Yorkers to refine these station locations."
To see detailed maps of stations at the community level, click here.
Friday, December 07, 2012
New York City Bike Share, delayed from its initial summer, 2012 launch, is being delayed again. The city is now setting a May, 2013 launch date. Officials are citing damage from storm Sandy.
According to a DOT press release: "Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge flooded NYCBS’s facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River, and where about two-thirds of the system’s equipment had been stored before the Oct. 29 storm. While portions of the system’s equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, many parts of the system containing electrical components must have individual parts refurbished or replaced.
"NYCBS is currently working to identify, repair and replace these damaged parts, aided through insurance and supplemented by equipment that wasn’t stored at the Navy Yard, as well as by additional equipment from its supplier and from elsewhere in the delivery pipeline."
The bike share was initially scheduled for July, then August, then delayed until March 2013. Bike share systems in Chicago, San Francisco, and an expansion in Washington have also been delayed. All four cities share a vendor, Alta Bike Share.
Launching bike share has been a part of the city's PlaNYC, a blueprint for reducing the city's carbon footprint and combating climate change. Climate change has been cited as a reason for Sandy's intensity and destruction.
The city also says some neighborhoods won't get bike share even at the newly delayed launch date.
"The timeline will affect the phasing for neighborhoods in the initial launch area. The 5,500 bikes will be located in the densest and most geographically contiguous parts of the service area in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in Brooklyn as work continues to extend to 7,000 bikes in the remaining parts of the Brooklyn service area and into Long Island City, Queens, by the end of 2013. Details will be announced as planning continues. And while planning is underway to launch the initial system in May, we remain committed to bringing the system to 10,000 bikes."
In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director, Paul Steely White, was philosophical. “New Yorkers are eager for this new transportation choice but we all know the damage Hurricane Sandy wrought on our city," Steely White said. "Every day, a new cost is added to the toll of destruction, and the damage to the bike share equipment is merely the latest. We’re thankful the storm spared so much of the equipment and grateful to see the program will still launch in the spring.”
Tri-State Transportation campaign offered a more grimly sanguine twist: "If a 150 percent increase in bicycling over the East River bridges in the days after the storm is any indication, bike share will help New York City’s residents and commuters weather the next storm even better."
Friday, August 17, 2012
(UPDATED 9:55am) There will be no shiny blue Citi Bikes on the streets of New York until March.
"Unfortunately there are software issues" said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday on his radio show on WOR with John Gambling. The mayor said: "One of the newspapers keeps writing, 'you're hiding something.' Yeah, well, nothing. The software doesn't work. Duh. Until it works, we're not going to put it out until it does work."
"We did think there would be a possibility of a partial launch but at this point --
At which point, Gambling interjected: "Next year?"
"The spring," Mayor Bloomberg responded. "Hopefully the software will work by then. We want to make sure that it works. Washington and Boston are pretty good tests." The Mayor added that "mother nature" makes winter a poor time to launch a system.
A press release from the NYC Department of Transportation (full text below) sent out shortly after the Mayor's radio statement clarified the launch date will be "March" for phase 1 of the program, which will include 7,000 bikes at 420 stations. The statement did not specify what neighborhoods, or with what pace the bikes would be deployed.
Chicago also delayed its launch until spring, and before its own system went live, Boston delayed so as not to have the system get going just as a cold, northeast winter was getting under way. Bike share relies on physical activity, and streets clear of snow and ice.
The New York bike share program was to have launched July 31. But that day came and went with city officials tight-lipped about why. Mayor Bloomberg only said the problem had to do with software issues.
"It really is very advanced technology," the Mayor said Friday. "Each station is like a dock, each place you stick in a bike is a computer, and everything runs on solar power so you don't need a lot of wiring and there's no burden on the electrical system. There's an enormous number of transactions you have to communicate in real time to central computers."
With 10,000 bikes at full roll-out New York's system will be, by several orders of magnitude, the largest system in U.S., and the largest in North America. The next largest U.S. system is in Washington, with about 2,000 bikes.
Even before Friday's announcement, there were indications that the initial, breathless announcements may have been overly optimistic. When it named its sponsor, the city let it slip out that launching the system would take 13 months, and that neighborhoods like Park Slope and the Upper West Side wouldn't get bike share until 2013.
That turned out to be because finding a sponsor took so much longer than anticipated, and because of that the vendor who is supplying New York with its bikes, Alta Bicycle Share, didn't have any money in hand to order bikes until months later than planned.
Alta is also preparing large bike shares for San Francisco and Chicago. The Chicago system, set to be 4,000 bikes, is similarly delayed, and the losing vendor in that city has sued, saying the Chicago transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had an inappropriate consulting relationship with Alta. A Klein spokesman says there's nothing untoward and that Klein recused himself from Chicago's selection.
Alta is the only vendor in the U.S. who has undertaken large-scale bike share systems, running both the Washington, DC and Boston networks. Those programs are widely deemed to be successful, and both are expanding. They both use a previous version of software, made by a different vendor, than newer Alta bike share systems. Boston's launch was also delayed by several months when it opened with 600 bikes in Summer 2011.
On Thursday, at an unrelated press conference in Coney Island, Brooklyn, the mayor said: “We’re trying to figure out when we can put a date that we’re sure or reasonably sure that it will work."
He said the reason for New York's delay is straightforward. “Look,” he said, “everybody wants to say there’s a secret agenda here. The software doesn’t work. And putting it out when the software doesn’t work, it wouldn’t work. Period.”
He wet on: “The fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn’t want bicycles are now screaming ‘where are they?’. So I guess we’ve come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me.”
On Friday, cycling advocates praised the Mayor's edition. " “While we are eager for Citi Bike to begin, it’s more crucial that this ground-breaking transit system be launched correctly, not quickly, " said Paul Steely White, the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
"New York’s public bike share program will not only be the largest bike share system in the Western Hemisphere, it will also be the city’s first brand-new, full-scale form of public transit since the subway’s debut more than 100 years ago—this is not a moment to rush. When bike share launches in 2013, it will transform New York City by giving New Yorkers unprecedented convenience and freedom of mobility. In time, the circumstances of Citi Bike’s launch will be all but forgotten and we’ll all be enjoying a city made safer, healthier and less congested," Steely White added.
The contract inked between Alta Bicycle Share and New York City last September, which Transportation Nation has obtained, stipulated the company was to have least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31.
Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.
The announcement came on a summer Friday, typical a time politicians use to announce news they hope will garner little attention.
Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.
“It’s all private money. And the people who’ve put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what’s going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don’t have bicycles, but the city doesn’t lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly — but you’ve got to do it right.”
The city’s Department of Transportation and Alta -- which is contractually not allowed to speak without prior DOT approval -- had been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike’s official twitter account has been dark for a week.
But on Friday, the city issued DOT its longest statement in months on bike share.
The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) today announced that the Citi Bike system will launch in March 2013 with an initial phase of 7,000 bikes implemented at 420 stations. The timeline, agreed to by all parties, does not affect the Citi Bike sponsorship structure, which uses $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system for five years and ensures that NYCBS will split profits with the City.
“New York City demands a world-class bike share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on Day One,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “The enthusiasm for this program continues to grow and we look forward to bringing this affordable new transportation option to New Yorkers without cost to taxpayers.”
“NYCBS continues to be committed to bringing the largest and best solar-powered bike share system in the world to New York City,” said Alison Cohen, President. “We recognize that New Yorkers are eagerly anticipating the launch of the bike share system and we will deliver on that promise.”
NYCBS continues work to conclude manufacture and testing of the high-performance software necessary to operate the new system, which is being tailored for New York City. The system uses new solar power arrays and circuit boards, and engineers will continue to thoroughly test data communications, power management and payment systems to ensure overall system performance. Following the March launch, work will continue to expand the system to 10,000 bikes, covering parts of Manhattan and from Long Island City to parts of Brooklyn.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
By Kate Hinds
[The Mayor said on Friday the system won't launch until next spring. Here's our post on it.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't putting a date on when New York's delayed bike share program will be up and running. The program was to have launched July 31, but that date came and went. The mayor has attributed the delay to unspecified software issues.
"We're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work," Bloomberg said Thursday. He also said, without explanation, the city is "getting very close."
Bloomberg was speaking at a press conference trumpeting the new shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium.
New York's bike share, at 10,000 bikes, is by far the largest planned bike share anywhere in North America. The next largest system is in Washington, which is about a fifth that size.
An ambitious bike share program in Chicago has also been delayed, and a vendor who lost the bid has sued, saying that city's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had a conflict because he was a consultant on Alta's bid to New York City. A spokesman for the Chicago mayor has said Klein recused himself from the Chicago negotiations and that the suit is baseless.
Alta is also the vendor for Boston's "Hubway" bike share. That program was also delayed by several months, though officials there declare the system a success and are expanding it.
On Thursday, Bloomberg said the reason for the delay is straightforward. "Look," he said. "Everybody wants to say there's a secret agenda here. The software doesn't work. And putting it out when the software doesn't work, it wouldn't work. Period. And so we're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work. And we're trying."
"Everybody - a lot - the fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn't want bicycles are now screaming 'where are they' so I guess we've come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me."
Alta Bicycle Share, the company picked by New York City last September to run its program, was supposed to have had at least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31, according to its contract with the city, which Transportation Nation has obtained.
Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.
Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.
"It's all private money. And the people who've put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what's going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don't have bicycles, but the city doesn't lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly -- but you've got to do it right."
The city's Department of Transportation and Alta have been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike's official twitter account has been dark for a week.
Monday, July 16, 2012
It's official. New York's much anticipated bike share program will not launch this month as originally planned. Although on Monday afternoon the NYC Department of Transportation website still declared a July launch to what will become the nation's largest bike share program, the agency confirms the program will not begin until at least August.
“We’re working on the launch plan and will update the public as soon as we finalize all the details,” Seth Solomonow, NYC DOT spokesman tells Transportation Nation in an email.
This isn't the first time the DOT has cited a date after July, but it is the first time they have confirmed there would not be some kind of launch in July for the membership-based public bike rental system.
As Transportation Nation reported in May, the DOT did acknowledge, though quietly, that the program would roll out over the course of months, not all at once. In our previous story we wrote:
“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.”
News of an August launch began to circulate after StreetsBlog noticed the official CitiBike Twitter feed referring to an August launch, something neither the DOT nor Alta Bicycle Share, the company tapped to run CitiBike, would confirm.
Other official online references to a launch date are similarly imprecise. The best guess, though: you can sign up for a membership starting next month and some neighborhoods may start to get bikes as early as, but possibly later than, August. (Here is one of several tweets to that effect.)
Meanwhile the CitiBike website said "Summer 2012" as of Monday afternoon. That's an amendment to an earlier version of the paragraph pictured that had said July was the month.
And then it gets more muddled with several CitiBike tweets that say both July AND August.
In fact, a launch that spans different months is likely, though, as DOT confirms, those months are not going to include July.
So, if you are expecting to sign up for one of the first memberships, plan on doing that in August (but maybe July, but probably not) and then hoping your neighborhood gets bikes first. It's fairly certain piecing together the various hints online and in past statements that many neighborhoods will not have bike share in July, and probably not in August either.
The agency hasn't said which neighborhoods will get bikes first if there is some sort of very small launch at the end of July, though it has released a map of the 420 locations in the first year of the program. The initial base of operations for the company will be the Brooklyn Navy Yard, so that could be a convenient area to test. Or maybe the Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan will want CitiBikes close to home and set up the very first stations around City Hall. That area has one of the highest rates of bike commuting in the city as it is.
As for why the date is later than the original July projection, see this story about the delay in firming up the $41 million main sponsor, which pushed back the order of some of the bikes. Unlike in other cities, such as Washington, D.C., the New York bike share program is not receiving any taxpayer money. It will be the largest in the U.S. when fully operational. Riders will be able to check out a bike at one location for up to 30 minutes and drop the bikes off at another location after paying a membership fee, which could be daily, monthly or yearly.
Monday, June 11, 2012
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) When we heard that Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, would be sitting for an interview with show host Leonard Lopate in a studio at WNYC, we made sure to plant a transportation question.
Johnson: My advice is, 'Enjoy it.' I think it's high time that New York had it. It's a great scheme; it will go well.
Johnson then described how London's bikeshare program has transformed street life in Great Britain's capital city, and what New Yorkers should brace for.
Johnson: I think drivers have got to learn to recognize they are going to find bikes on the streets. It's just a fact of life, and it will civilize the place. It will improve the atmosphere. There's nothing more immediately redolent of a village than loads of people wobbling around on bicycles.
Understandably, Lopate was suspicious of the idea that New Yorkers could be civilized, especially compared to Londoners.
Lopate: London's always had a bicycle culture. And bicyclists, at least when I rode around London, actually observed the traffic rules. We would signal left turn, right turn, and not go through red lights. That doesn't happen in this city. Has there been the kind of war between drivers and bicyclists that we've seen in New York?
Johnson: I wish everybody was as punctilious as you are, Leonard. I'm going to have to confess to you that we've got some bad habits now in London. There's loads of people who jump red lights, ride on the pavement, intimidate pedestrians and disobey the rules of the road. If any of them are listening, they know who they are.
Despite such problems, bikeshares have come a long way since the 1960s, when a Dutch anarchist group collected several hundred bicycles, painted them white and left them lying around Amsterdam to be used for free--a bold stroke that inspired this super-groovy song. Today's bikeshares, like Barclay Cycle Hire in London, tend to be organized, branded and growing.
Johnson: We've seen a massive expansion of cycling in London. Last year alone, it's gone up 15 percent. The cycle scheme we've got in is expanding very fast. We're at something like 40,000 rides a day. We will go further.
Still, the Mayor of London ended with a cautionary note about the need for police to crack down on bad actors.
Johnson: But there's got to be a reciprocal understanding by cyclists that they've got to obey the rules of the road.
Are you listening, New York City?
Here is a video about how London's bikeshare works:
No Bike Share on the Upper West Side Until June 2013: Sadik-Khan Discusses Biking, Parking -- and Bike Parking, in NYC Council Testimony
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
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.
Monday, May 14, 2012
It's been a long time since the private sector completely took in hand the funding of a public transportation network, and New York's Citibank is certainly rolling the dice by getting behind one as new as New York's bike share.
But there's some anecdotal evidence the bet to associate itself with a hip, new environmentally friendly, healthy form of transport may pay off.
(You can listen to an audio version of this story here.)
On the streets of New York last week, lots of people were already familiar with Citibank's sponsorship -- "I'm very familiar with it," said Jason Banks, who works in advertising. "Isn't it Citibank?" said Erin Goldsmith, who works for a social media company.
Lisa Lipshaw, from London, worked with the company that set up London's Barclay Cycle Hire. "They did really well out of the sponsorship," she said.
At the kick-off press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg did his part. At least four or five times, he said "Citibank" when he meant "citibike," before he corrected himself.
"The person who I have the pleasure of introducing next hopes everyone confuses Citibike with Citibank," Bloomberg said, teeing up the remarks of Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit.
Pandit himself was pretty bullish on citibike. "We think this is a very innovative program that makes people's lives easier, and that's what we do, that's what we do as a bank."
Not everyone was thrilled. Web designer Antonio Ortiz is uncomfortable with big banks' roll in the recent financial collapse "It's like some kind of subversive way of 'Hey we're buying PR, we're being good and we care about the environment and the people of the community.' Like if it was Patagonia, I'm sure I'd feel a different way."
But still. There are exactly zero New York bikes on the street, and already the name is catching on.
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 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.
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."
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
When New York Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced New York's bike share program last fall, the intention was clear -- they were setting up "a new system to be comprised of 10,000 bikes and 600 stations in parts of Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn -- at no cost to the taxpayers" as Sadik-Khan put it then.
The system, it was explained, needed to be large to make it work -- the more potential users could depend on finding bikes in a variety of locales, the more it would be an actual public transportation network -- not some urban folly.
But when the system was presented Monday under its brand new-name, Citibike, to be funded through a five-year, $41 million contract with Citibank and a $6.5 million Mastercard sponsorship, it was somewhat less extensive -- at least at first. "It will be a phased-in deployment," Sadik-Khan said at Monday's press conference. "I mean we can’t just airdrop 10,000 bikes in. It will be between August and spring of 2013 that we'll have the deployment of the full system."
The bike share program, it turned out, would NOT hit the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, or much of Brooklyn beyond Bergen Street until a year from now.
Sadik-Khan wouldn't explain why, or when, this decision was made. No other DOT officials would speak to this issue, implying that this was always the plan. When I asked Alta president Alison Cohen about delays in implementing the program, Sadik-Khan's spokesman rushed over to prevent her from answering.
But speaking to elected leaders, officials and several sources familiar with negotiations over the bike share contract, a story has emerged of a far more rocky road to a sponsor than yesterday's happy news conference would suggest.
"I got a call sometime last week, that’s when I first heard of a delay," said Council member Gail Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side. Brewer says she was told there would be 7,000 bikes rolled out at first, with the balance coming next spring. Was she disappointed? Brewer, a big bike share backer, was philosophical. "I'll be disappointed if I don't get my day care slots back," Brewer said, referring to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget. "You have to have priorities."
When the city announced that Alta Bicycle Share would be operating the bike share it made one in a series of splashy promises -- there would be no cost to New York taxpayers. "Alta will be getting a sponsor," Sadik-Khan said at the time. That would make New York the only large-scale system in the country to be entirely privately funded.
"We're getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money," Bloomberg said at Monday's press conference. "Who thought that could be done?"
Apparently, there were a lot of doubters. Puma was approached, and Adidas (New Balance has sponsored Boston's "Hubway.") So was American Express. "All the usual suspects," said one source familiar with the negotiations. "The list of companies who could spend this kind of money just isn't that long. And it was unprecedented to raise that kind of capital for an unproven system -- bike share on European scale, an order of magnitude larger than any system in existence in north America."
By February, officials were beginning to sweat. If New York didn't find a sponsor, the city could be on the hook to Alta -- but worse, many officials thought, the bike share program could be imperiled.
"It's a lot of money and each company has to decide whether the opportunities they'll have by sponsorship fit their clientele," said Bloomberg on Monday, maintaining he never worried.
But Alta's business plan was confusing, sources say, making it hard to reel in the big money. In late winter, the city involved its Economic Development Corporation in the planning, adding some business gravitas to the discussions. (The EDC is a quasi city agency that usually hands out loans to entities willing to locate or create jobs in New York.)
Ed Skyler, Bloomberg's former Deputy Mayor for Operations (and Sadik-Khan's old boss), is a top Citibank executive. Citibank was lured in.
(Even so, everyone, from the Mayor on down, credits Sadik-Khan. "I never worried," Bloomberg said, "because Janette went after it. And anyone who knows Janette knows if she sets her mind to it it's going to get done.")
Eventually, Citibank was sold. "We think this is a very innovative program that makes people’s lives easier, that’s what we do, that’s what we do as a bank," Vikram Pandit, Citibank's CEO, told me Monday.
Was he worried about controversy surrounding the program? "This is a program supporting bikes, bikes are environmentally friendly, they're good exercise. There’s always controversy -- but on balance we think this is a great program," Pandit said.
The Citibank contract was signed only two weeks ago -- far later than officials had hoped. Without the contract, there wasn't the upfront capital to get the bikes produced. And that, multiple sources confirm, was the major reason for the delay in getting the bikes to some neighborhoods.
Bike share boosters are, for the most part, expressing just the faintest disappointment at the delay in bringing bike share to the full footprint.
"The reality of implementing an entire transportation network from scratch for a city as large and complicated as New York will obviously require a careful approach," said Transportation Alternatives chief Paul Steely White. "The city is working with local communities to roll out bike share with as little disruption as possible. Sometimes that means revising timelines. The important thing is to keep moving forward and work toward meeting the huge demand for bike share in New York City."
Steely White, Brewer and others are willing to cut the city some slack -- willing to give credence to what the city says. "We said we would find a sponsor. And we did," mayoral spokesman Marc LaVorgna said. " We're doing something that's never been done before."
When the bright blue bikes were unveiled Monday at City Hall plaza, there were smiles and claps. And the idea of "Citibike" seemed to convey exactly what the city wanted -- these bikes are for transportation, for getting around the city. These are urban bikes. And they are intimately tied with the city's economic future.
"A perfect outcome," Sadik-Khan told me yesterday. I told her I was guessing she was exhaling right about now. A faint smile played across her lips.
Monday, May 07, 2012
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.
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.
Thursday, May 03, 2012
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.
NOTE: WE'VE TURNED THIS INTO AN INTERACTIVE MAP, VIEW IT HERE.
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.