New York’s Bicycle Sharing Program Takes Off
NEW YORK, USA – America’s biggest bicycle-sharing program got rolling. Recently thousands of New Yorkers got their first chance to ride this brand new network. Painted in royal-blue the rental bikes will be clearly visible in the streets.
Unike in most other cities, New York bicycle sharing program is privately financed. The Citi Bike, name after its lead sponsor Citigroup Inc., kicked off with 6,000 bikes at more than 300 stations. When the system is successful it will be expanded to 10,000 bikes docked at 600 places in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Riders now can unlock the three-gear, cruising-style bikes from any station, take them for a 45-minute ride and return them to any station. Subscribers pay a $95 annual fee for an unlimited number of rides of 45 minutes.
Out of the more than 500 bike-sharing systems around the world, New York’s is the biggest in the United States. Fifteen thousand people already have signed up for New York’s program. To stimulate the use of bicycles in the city, New York has recently added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and promoted cycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to driving.
The bike-sharing rollout was not without any problems. The launch was delayed because of problems including damage from Superstorm Sandy. Some residents are incensed about the bike stations, saying the racks block entrances to their buildings or take up park space for a profit-making program. The city intends to split any proceeds with NYC Bike Share LLC, a company running the program. Citigroup is paying $41 million to sponsor it. MasterCard is paying an additional $6.5 million.
Problems in London
Cycling schemes are not always successful proven by the situation of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme in London. According to a BBC report, 20% fewer bikes were taken out between March and May compared to last year. “We are continuing to look at operational costs and at ways of increasing performance making sure that we give both best value possible to users of Barclays cycle hire but also to the taxpayer in terms of funding it”, said Garrett Emmerson from Transport for London, who is running the daily operation.