New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, known for his smoking and Big Gulp activism, has taken his enthusiasm for all things healthy onto the city streets.
Today, he debuted Citi Bike, billed as the nation’s largest bike-sharing system. How ubiquitous? Six thousand bikes at 300 stations, initially located below 59th Street in Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn Heights, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill, Fort Green and DUMBO.
The project was funded by a $41 million Citi bank grant, with members signing up at the Citi Bike site receiving an electronic key good for 45 minutes-worth of biking before an additional cost accrues. After June 2, membership will be available onsite to anyone who wants to join at the “docks” dispersed around the city.
The move has drawn controversy from some who are saying it’s a risky move in a city known for less-than-law-abiding drivers, insane traffic, and the odd construction crane collapse. Still, promoters cite the models from cities such as Boston, DC and many parts of Europe, where biking to work or shop is de rigeuer.
Mayor Bloomberg, in his last year in office, is also being watched by would-be mayoral candidates. Should the bike program succeed, politicians such as Anthony Weiner, should he win election, could become more eco-friendly. Politicians in Connecticut will also likely be watching for signs that such a program could take off here. Fuel cell buses already punctuate an increasingly green municipal landscape in the state.
With ambitious plans to distribute 10,000 bikes and expand to the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan as well as other parts of Brooklyn and Queens, Citibike definitely has legs…or wheels.
So the enthusiasm the mayor showed at City Hall today was not surprising. For there, alongside a 39-dock, solar-powered bike share station, he announced that:
“The Citi Bike program is a big win for New York, and it’s already the largest bike share system in the nation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “It’s going to give New Yorkers another way to get around town by extending connectivity from subway and bus stops. It’s also going to be great for our millions of visitors, allowing them another way to see the city, including making our incredible waterfront more accessible.”
For more information, click here. To sign up, visit www.citibikenyc.com.
For FAQs on the program, click here.
An earlier version of this story said the program starts tomorrow; the program began today.