Bike-Share Coming to NYC? DOT Says It Will Test the Waters

velib_station.jpgAfter dropping hints that 'Free Bike Fridays' on Governors Island could serve as a prelude to something bigger, DOT today announced its intention to "explore the concept of bike share and investigate the feasibility of instituting such a program in New York City." The agency has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest [PDF] to determine what a bike-share program in New York might look like, and how it would function.

"New York is a world-class city for biking, and we are looking to build a world-class bike network," said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a statement released today. If the agency likes what it receives by the September 15 deadline, the next step may be to issue a Request for Proposals. The RFEI itself does not guarantee that DOT will award a contract.

Readers may recall that EDC issued the same type of request to gauge the economic and technical feasibility of a congestion pricing system last fall. After receiving 30 proposals, the agency concluded that the "large number and quality of responses clearly indicates that the market place believes that the implementation of the City's congestion pricing plan is feasible."

If DOT opts to create a robust program, like Vélib in Paris, cycling modeshare stands to gain considerably. "A Paris-style bike-share would put tens of thousands more cyclists in the city’s bike network," said Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives. "No other city in the country is better suited to this novel form of public transportation than New York." 

In the press release, DOT outlined what the agency will be looking for as it judges the submissions:

The RFEI notes that the most successful existing Bike Sharing Programs minimize the cost to bike share users and provide a sufficiently extensive network of stations to accommodate a wide range of potential short trips in the network’s area of focus.  However the agency remains open to receiving any new ideas and financing structures that would meet New York City’s framework.

Respondents to the RFEI will be asked to provide detailed information on what they estimate the size of New York City’s bike share market to be, as well as information on the scope of a feasible bike share program including ideas on station site selection, equipment, fee structures, technology and all related costs for both implementation and upkeep.

Photo of Vélib station: Eric Green/Flickr