Thursday, July 19, 2012
By Kate Hinds
New York City won't commit to a new launch date for its vaunted bike share, the largest planned for North America.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered the first explanation Thursday for why the city’s bike share program won’t launch in July: technical reasons.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony in Harlem's Sugar Hill, the mayor was asked when the program was going to be up and running — and what the problems were.
He replied: “Well, its software isn’t working yet. And just rest assured we’re not going to put out any program here that doesn’t work.”
He went on to acidly comment that New Yorkers’ attitudes towards bike share seemed to be evolving. “What’s fascinating is there was a lot of screaming that ‘we don’t want bikes’ and now everybody’s screaming ‘we want ‘em now.’ We’re just not going to do it until it works. There’s no government money involved whatsoever here, the only thing about a delay — if it turns out there is one — is that people won’t be able to use something that we think is phenomenally popular. But until we get it working perfectly, have these private companies do it to our satisfaction, we’re just not going to put it out.”
Calls to Alta Bicycle Share (the company operating the system), as well to the New York City Department of Transportation, weren’t immediately returned. A spokesperson for the City Hall wouldn’t provide further information beyond confirming the Mayor’s comments.
Previous speculation about the delay focused on money and timing. New York City’s bike share program is unique among its peers in that it’s entirely privately funded. Citibank, the program’s main sponsor, wasn’t formally on board until the end of April. Until the sponsorship money was firmly in hand, the city couldn’t begin production. Which meant New York had only a couple of months to turn around 7,000 bikes, 420 stations, and a functional payment system. Some sources TN spoke to wondered if that timeline wasn’t too ambitious.
Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives said, “no one in any other city in the world remembers the start date.”
You can listen to the audio from the mayor's remarks below.
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:
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
By Kate Hinds
WNYC listeners had questions about New York City's impending bike share program -- and TN's Andrea Bernstein had answers. Cost? Liability? Docking station locations? Length of ride? She fielded phone calls on Tuesday's Brian Lehrer Show on all of these topics.
And want to hear her response to Miriam in Greenwich Village, who complained that "bicycle riders are not very good about following traffic rules -- they don't stop for red lights"? Listen to the segment below.
And go to the Brian Lehrer Show web page as well to read the healthy conversation in the comments section.