Damage From Sandy Pushes Bike-Share Launch From March to May

This just in from NYC DOT: After bike-share equipment stored in the Brooklyn Navy Yard sustained damage in the Sandy storm surge, the city’s public bike system is now set to launch in May, not March. The initial service area will also be about three-quarters as large as the plan before the storm. Instead of beginning with 7,000 bikes at 420 stations, then ramping up to 10,000 bikes, the May launch will consist of 5,500 bikes at 293 stations, expanding to 7,000 bikes by the end of 2013. The city still intends to implement a 10,000-bike system, though in 2014, a new administration will be in place.

Given the reports of extensive damage that surfaced after Sandy, the news that a spring launch is still in the works comes as something of a relief. At 5,500 bikes, the initial fleet would still surpass Montreal’s Bixi as the largest in North America. “We’re thankful the storm spared so much of the equipment and grateful to see the program will still launch in the spring,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White said in a statement.

The damage to electrical components is the major hurdle to overcome, according to DOT. Here’s their full press release:

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) today announced that because of damage to bike share equipment caused by Hurricane Sandy, Citi Bike will launch in May 2013 with at least 5,500 bikes implemented at 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The revised timeline was agreed to by all parties and will not impact the $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system, and with NYCBS profits to be split with the City during the six-year contract. 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.

“DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

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.