Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announces the selection of Alta Bike Share to operate NYC's bike-share system. Standing to the left is Working Families Party director Dan Cantor. To the right are council members Gale Brewer and Brad Lander, and Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. Photo: Noah Kazis
Addressing a plaza full of reporters at Madison Square this afternoon, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced that the city is entering the next phase of its initiative to launch a public bike system stretching from the Upper West Side to Bedford Stuyvesant. The system will be run by Alta Bike Share and consist of about 600 stations with 10,000 bicycles, creating a network of comparable size and density to bike-share systems in cities like London and Paris.
Station density is perhaps the single greatest key to success in a modern bike-share system. The less searching you have to do for a station, and the closer you are to your destination when you dock your bike, the better. As Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told Streetfilms earlier this year, the underlying principle is “go big or go home.” With this announcement, NYC DOT and Alta have clearly signaled that they are going big. Once bike-share launches, it will change the way New Yorkers get around the city, extending the range of the transit system and adding point-to-point convenience for short trips.
Sadik-Khan said the selection of the bike-share operator also marks the beginning of an extensive public outreach campaign, which will seek ideas from local residents, community boards, and civic leaders to determine where bike-share stations should go. “This is just the start,” she said. “We really want your help in planning the system.” Public workshops will be held throughout the fall, and the bike-share system is on track to launch in 2012, potentially by the summer.
Leaders from NYC’s business community and progressive political landscape hailed the bike-share program as a way to give New Yorkers more transportation options and attract a skilled workforce. Both Kathy Wylde, the CEO of the city’s biggest business lobbying group, the Partnership for NYC, and Dan Cantor, leader of the labor-affiliated Working Families Party, were on hand to back the initiative. Wylde called bike-share “an important contribution to the next generation of what will make New York attractive to talent,” and Cantor said it is “one of those things that we’re going to look back at in a few years and say, ‘What took so long?’”
Asked specifically why cycling and bike-share is progressive, Cantor said: “This is so obvious. This is good for human beings. It’s good for the planet. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It burns calories. It makes you a happy person when you ride a bike.”
Three City Council members who represent districts within the bike-share service area also endorsed the plan: Gale Brewer, Brad Lander, and Tish James. The precise borders of the service area have yet to be finalized, but its general contours will run from the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side to Bed Stuy and Greenpoint. The city is considering ways to expand service to other areas after the first phase of the system is up and running, said Sadik-Khan.
Council Member Tish James, trailed by Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, tries out a bike made by the Public Bike System Company, which will supply NYC. Photo: Ben Fried