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Coming Soon to NYC: The Country’s Largest Bike-Sharing Program?

The New York City Department of Transportation is issuing a request for proposals on Wednesday–and it hopes to have a program up and running by 2012.

London bike sharing

Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. all have bike-sharing programs. San Francisco is set to get one next year. But the biggest bike-sharing program in the country may soon pop up in New York City. The New York City Department of Transportation is issuing a request for proposals on Wednesday.

According to Transportation Nation, New York is aiming to have a 24-hour network of approximately 10,000 GPS and wireless-equipped bikes, as well as up to 600 solar-powered bike stations located on streets and sidewalks every few blocks. Paying members will be allowed to take an unlimited number of half hour
trips each day at no cost above their subscription fee. Longer trips will incur a small charge.

The entire program will be paid for by the private sector during an initial five-year period, with the city sharing the revenue stream. The DOT will also reserve the right to approve rates.

The reason? NYC just doesn’t have the cash to pay for its own bike-sharing system, explained Stephen Goldsmith, NYC deputy mayor, on The Brian Lehrer Show. “We’ve created bike lanes, and the bike lanes could be used more. And
there are a lot of folks who go short distances…The city doesn’t have the money to invest in bike-share programs and
if a commercial operator could produce one where the bikes are safe and
secure and clean, then [DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan] is interested in getting the proposal,” he said.

The city is moving fast, with a goal of having a fully-functional system by April 2012. A two-month test with 30 bike stations could begin as soon as next summer. And if NYC can get a massive bike-sharing system in place in under two years, there’s no reason that smaller cities across the country can’t do the same.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist.She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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