Bike shares are finally coming to New York, in July 2012! While NYC is pretty infamous for its unbicycleable streets, many are hoping that bike shares will help make more room for bikers…and safer for all who share the road. The bikes in New York will be sponsored by Citi ($41 million deal), and you can sign up for an annual membership ($95) or shorter, more occasional usage ($9.95 for a day or $25 for a week). The idea is that you can pick up a bike at a station, and return it to any other station — get where you need to go, get some exercise, don’t need to rely on taxis or the subway, and good for trips that are too long for a walk. The best part for many is that you don’t need to worry about maintenance or storage, two things hard to come by around here. Also, the system will use Spotcycle, a mobile app that tracks and updates information on bike availability and locations.
However, there have been a few concerns, mostly about the cost and time constraints. The NYC bicycle share will be a privately sponsored system, meaning that the bikes will be decked out in Citi blue (looking like these), and there is no taxpayer money going into the program. While the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share program worked to get community input on where to put the stations, the pricing scheme that was recently unveiled was quite surprising. Andrea Bernstein sums it up well with her charts, comparing pricing systems and time limits across major bike share cities. A beginning chunk of the first 30-45 minutes of each ride is free with a one-day, seven-day, or year pass, but after you pass that grace period, the fee starts counting with the time, and it comes out fairly expensive. The justification is that most New Yorkers won’t be needing a bike over 45 minutes, because apparently 54% of trips we take are less than 2 miles, so we won’t need to frequent this hazy zone where fees start popping up. However, NYC is big, and the bulk of its residents live in the outer boroughs. Once you start heading out of Manhattan, or even north into the Upper East and West sides, where there aren’t even any planned stations yet, you run into some problems. The program hopes to expand to these areas, as well as further out neighborhoods of Brooklyn like Park Slope and Crown Heights — but at that point, a bike commute to work in midtown can take much more than 45 minutes.
Comparison charts between cities and discussion by Andrea Bernstein
NYC bike station map (current plan, to be updated)