To Reach 10,000 Bikes, DOT Looks to Sponsorships, Sandy Recovery Loan

With 6,000 bicycles, New York’s bike-share program is already the largest in the country. In fact, immediately after launching, Citi Bike proceeded to eclipse the national daily ridership record (previously held by Capital Bikeshare), with 12,000 trips in 24 hours. Ridership should grow steadily as more people start using the bikes and the network expands, but how quickly will Citi Bike grow beyond the initial service area? Appearing on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan discussed how the city intends to land the funds to implement the original plan for a 10,000-bike system.

The winning bid from system operator Alta Bicycle Share in 2011 envisioned a 10,000-bike/600-station system, but after Hurricane Sandy flooded a bike-share warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the damage limited what could be built with available funds to 7,000 bikes at 420 stations. About 100 of those stations have yet to come online; the city plans to add them before the end of the year.

The city also still intends to ramp up to a 10,000-bike system. Making up for the damage from Sandy is no small challenge, however, especially since the city has emphasized that Citi Bike, unlike most other bike-share programs, will not receive any taxpayer money.

At the end of the interview with Lehrer, Sadik-Khan said that DOT would be looking at Sandy recovery loans and additional sponsorships to expand the system to more neighborhoods. ”We’re continuing to work with sponsors on that, and we’re continuing to work with the Small Business Administration on a loan to make up for the bikes that were lost during Sandy,” she said.

New York would not be the first city to receive an SBA loan for bike-share, though it would probably be the first to apply disaster recovery funds. In Chicago, SBA provided a $350,000 loan to a 100-bike program operated by B-cycle, which is now closed and being replaced by the larger, Alta-operated Divvy bike-share program this summer.