Yesterday wasn’t just Memorial Day. History was made in New York City. The metropolis leapt into the ranks of top bike-friendly cities like San Francisco, Paris, Stockholm, Vienna, Barcelona, Brussels, and Copenhagen. The rollout has started with 10,000 bright blue bikes for rent at 600 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
And zero taxpayer dollars are going to fund this venture.
That’s right, zero. Citibank and MasterCard have put up all the seed funds, the bank supplying $41 million for the hardware and the credit card company $6.5 million for the payment systems. The existing NYC Bike Share program, supported by 72% of New Yorkers, will operate the system. Janette Sadik-Khan, the Commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation since 2007 and a veteran of the Federal Transit Administration and international infrastructure services provider Parsons Brinckerhoff, spearheaded the effort.
“We’re getting an entirely new 24/7 transportation network ,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the press at the initial announcement of the system. “We are getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money. Who thought that that could be done?”
Here’s how residents and travelers can now share a bike in New York City:
- Visit a bike station, buy a pass, and unlock your shared bike;
- Ride wherever you want; and
- Return the bike to a station anywhere in the system.
Daily, weekly, and annual passes are available.
Visit the new Citibike website to see how it works, station map, riding tips, events, blogs, and other information. There you can also download the official app, “perfect co-pilot for all your biking adventures in the city.”
“We think [CitiBike] is a very innovative program that makes people’s lives easier…. That’s what we do as a bank,” Vikram Pandit, Citibank’s CEO, told reporter Andrea Bernstein of WNYC. In Boston, New Balance sponsors a similar large project called “Hubway.”
Award-winning science writer Sandy Dechert covers environmental, health, and energy issues. With John Dowlin, Ralph Hirsch, Bob Thomas, Nancy Drye, Bob Pierson, and Susan McInerney, she compiled the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition’s first handbook on cycle commuting. Sandy has also reported on fitness, auto, plane, ship, and train transportation and extreme weather disasters. She also detailed events and policy at last fall’s 18th UN climate change summit meeting in Doha, Qatar.
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