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Bike sharing comes to New York

You’d have thought – or at least, I’d have thought – that New York City would have been a very early adopter of bike sharing. Turns out they’re just getting started now.

At a press conference [last Wednesday] afternoon, the Department of Transportation announced that it has selected Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, which runs similar programs in Boston and Washington D.C.

New York is kind of late to the bike-share game — European cities have been on this tip forever, and U.S. cities from Boston and D.C. to Madison, Minneapolis, and Chicago already have programs in place.

But New York will be the biggest bike-share yet. When it makes its debut next summer, New York City Bike Share will include 10,000 new bicycles at 600 locations, more than any other program in the world.

The rental stands will be placed about three blocks apart, throughout Manhattan below 79th Street and in the nearer reaches of Brooklyn.

Mindful of the recent grumblings about its ambitious bike-lane expansions, the Department of Transportation is promising to solicit lots of input before it selects locations for the rental stands.

Last week the DOT promised City Council it will consult the Council and hold public hearings as it goes forward. New Yorkers can also give their own suggestions for a bike-share location on the program’s web site.

There’s a video at the story that explains the basics. Speaking as a native Staten Islander, all I can say is that I hope they expand this beyond “Manhattan below 79th Street and in the nearer reaches of Brooklyn”. Oddly enough, the streets of Manhattan are crowded enough that I don’t know how they’ll be to an influx of presumably novice bicyclists. I also wonder if the effect will be more to reduce bus and subway ridership rather than to take cars off the street. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Also fixing to hop on board the bike sharing bandwagon – Dallas.

Absolutely, says the city’s top bicycle planner, Max Kalhammer.

The 2011 Dallas Bike Plan, approved in June by the Dallas City Council to mixed reviews, calls for just such a program, with a half-dozen bike centers located in downtown, he said. Private firms willing to operate a bike share program have already visited him, and interest is strong.

But first, he said, Dallas has to implement the first stages of the bike plan — which would add hundreds of miles of bike lanes — so that those who want to use the bikes, or use their own, can do so safely and have plenty of places to go.

“We have to really have the bicycle infrastructure in place before we can offer that program of bicycle sharing,” Kalhammer said. “One has to come before the other.”

Most importantly, the city is looking for about $500,000 in grant money to complete the Central Core Connector, a series of on-street improvements central Dallas that planners hope will make bicycling easier and safer for residents and tourists from Uptown to Deep Ellum, downtown and Oak Cliff.

[…]

How would the city’s bike share program work?

The bike plan envisions two possible scenarios. One would involve bringing in a firm, as New York has done, to manage the program in return for the right to collect fees from users. The monthly fee — pledged in NYC to be less than a monthly transit pass — would cover unlimited 24/7 access to, in New York’s case, the 10,000 bikes stationed throughout the city.

In Dallas, though, the program would start smaller, perhaps with about a half-dozen bike stations in downtown, though the plans call for expanding service to Deep Ellum and Oak Cliff over time.

The other scenario would involve the city managing the program.

Good for them. With San Antonio leading the way, and Houston and Austin to follow, our state’s on its way to being a lot more bike friendly.

Speaking of Houston, I was hoping to give an update on its Bike Share rollout, since it’s supposed to be up and running this fall. As it happens, Laura Spanjian was on vacation when the story about New York’s bike share program came out, and I have not been able to connect with her to ask for a status update. I will note that neither the Houston Bike Share Facebook page nor the Bike Share Houston webpage has been updated in recent months. When I hear something, I will let you know.

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