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Bike Sharing

Bike Sharing


At the end of November, 2010 the New York City Department of Transportation officially released a written proposal asking private companies to submit bids to establish a year-round bike share system that would offer 10,000 bicycles at about 600 stations throughout Manhattan. This proposal seeks to establish the most ambitious program in North America, and would be comparable in density to world-class systems already in place in other countries. Bids are due by February 16, 2011. The project is expected to be implemented in the spring of 2012.

The Request for Proposal issued by the DOT was posted by Ben Fried, of Streetsblog New York City, and can be viewed at their website http://www.streetsblog.org. The key details are that the city wants a range of memberships for bike users: daily, weekly, and yearly. Members would be entitled to unlimited daily usage of under 30 minutes, encouraging people to use bicycles instead of cabs, buses and subways. The city also wants solar-powered stations, spaced every few blocks, allowing for easy pick-up and drop-off. Finally, the city wants the bikes to have at least three speeds, and be equipped with GPS tracking, bells, and automatic lights.

The comments generated by the RFP have been really encouraging, but issues concerning proper tire inflation and the availability of bike helmets are potential problems. The plan has the backing of Mayor Bloomberg, who also continues his efforts to get a greener fleet of taxis and to expand pedestrian and cycling use of the streets throughout Manhattan.

If major cities like Manhattan can show that private bike-share companies can be profitable, the hope is that these systems will spread to smaller cities, like New Haven. Cities with colleges such as Yale, which have students living in an urban areas, appear especially well suited for bike sharing programs according to most analysts.