Starting next year, the New York City Department of Transportation will finalize its plans to create a citywide bicycle-sharing program that is expected to provide more publicly accessible bicycles than any program of its kind in the nation.
The program, a partnership between the city and Oregon-based company Alta Bicycle Share, is expected to bring 10,000 new bicycles to the city. In addition, 600 kiosks will be located along sidewalks, plazas and other popular public areas in Manhattan and Brooklyn. City transportation officials predict that it will provide 200 local jobs, primarily associated with maintenance and customer support.
“Bike share is a new form of public transportation that will help connect New Yorkers to their own neighborhoods, to other neighborhoods, and to public transit,” said Alta President Alison Cohen in a press release. “At the same time, it will make New York City a healthier, cleaner, greener and safer space.”
For New School students like C.J. DeColvo, bicycle riding is a logical way to traverse the city. DeColvo is one of many New School students who bike the commute to class, tying his bicycle to the racks just outside the Lang building at 66 W. 12 St.
“It’s a great way of getting around,” DeColvo said. “It’s fun to ride a bike, and it sends a good message… making them available to more people will help us become more conscious of what it means to travel.”
In 2012, 10,000 bicycles will be available to city goers as part of NYC’s bike share program.
In 1980, Mayor Ed Koch, in cooperation with then-Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz, implemented a $300,000 project to make the city more bicycle-friendly, bringing two six-foot-wide bicycle lanes to Sixth Avenue, stretching from Central Park South to Greenwich Village. But following opposition from City Council members who claimed that it cost too much money and resources, Koch backed away from plans to expand on the initiative, which also included adding more bike lanes around the five boroughs.
Now, those working under Mayor Michael Bloomberg say that the city must fully engage in efforts to provide access to all forms of transportation.
“Bike share is about choices for New Yorkers,” said Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor for government affairs and communications, via email. “In New York City, you should be able to walk, take the subway, drive, take a bus or bike safely, economically and efficiently.”
The program’s green light is the latest victory for area bicyclists. In August, legislators in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn passed a proposal allowing for the continuation of bicycle lanes around Prospect Park after opponents filed suit against the Department of Transportation, claiming that the lane posed a safety threat to street travelers.
Some, like Lang student Davide Pivi, are glad that the city is paying closer attention to bicycle transportation. Pivi argued that, though further measures could be taken, the bicycle-sharing program is a step in the right direction.
“Bike sharing is a great idea, but hopefully, there will be more safe bike lanes and spots in the city for bicyclists,” Pivi said. “That will help the way this city travels.”