Bike sharing to go green, beat traffic

The Department of Transportation (DOT) hopes to kick-start a privately funded bike share system for the city that will help reduce traffic congestion and provide greener transportation for residents and tourists by 2012.
The system would provide affordable and convenient rental bicycles for customers on a 24-hour basis, and could be started by spring 2012.
DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) Tuesday for private companies to provide and maintain the system.
“Biking has become a serious transportation option in New York and bike share is the clear next step,” said Sadik-Khan. “New York’s ideal geography, high residential and commercial density and growing bike infrastructure make it the perfect option for short trips since over 50 percent of trips in New York City are less than two miles.”
The RFP calls for answering private companies to bear all the costs and responsibilities for the system in its first five years, including implementation and maintenance. Additionally, it would share revenues with the city while no taxpayer funds would be used.
The RFP also calls for a system that would place bike share stations every few blocks. It also calls for memberships, which would allow an unlimited number of 30 minute trips at no additional cost. Since the program is meant to serve short trips, those longer than 30 minutes would incur a small charge.
The RFP did not specify the number of bicycles or the precise geographic area of the city to be covered. Preliminary city research indicates that a financially self sustaining program could include Manhattan south of 60th Street and surrounding neighborhoods. However, DOT is interested in systems that would span more than one borough.
“A bike sharing option would provide New Yorkers with another transportation option while reducing traffic,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “We are excited to see what creative ideas are submitted by the private sector through this RFP process.”
Bike share systems have already been implemented in other cities, including Paris, Barcelona, Denver and Montreal. The systems are always improving to reduce theft, which is allegedly almost non-existent in London and Washington D.C.

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