The city will officially launch its bike share program in July — and Mayor Bloomberg might actually give one a ride…at least once. But that’s only so that if someone asks him how it is, he’ll be able to respond.
“I will certainly pay and ride one,” the mayor told reporters this morning, standing in front of the new bicycles. “Am I going to do it often? Probably not. But I will certainly do it right away…so that I can say I did it.”
That way, the mayor said, if someone asks him what it’s like, he can describe his experience. You hear that folks? He’s just a regular guy like us.
When a reporter later suggested that maybe he wanted to give one a try right there and then, Bloomberg declined: “I gotta get myself a helmet first.”
Bloomberg was at City Hall to unveil the new bike share program and, of course, its corporate sponsors.
Citigroup is the sponsor of the new bike share program, called “Citi Bike.” The name is such good advertising that speakers at the press conference kept accidentally saying Citibank instead of Citi Bike, which Bloomberg pointed out is presumably the reason that they want the sponsorship in the first place. And the logo looks very much like Citibank’s own logo and are featured prominently on the new blue bikes. MasterCard is also getting in on the fun as the program’s official payment sponsor.
The $41 million agreement allows for New York City to launch the largest public bike share system in the country, which won’t cost taxpayers anything, the mayor said. “We are getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any [taxpayer] money,” he said.
The bike system will eventually feature 10,000 bikes and 600 stations. Users can have access to the bikes through an annual membership of $95, which Bloomberg pointed out is less than a monthly unlimited MetroCard. The bikes will be available 24/7 and can be used for trips up to 45 minutes, before users will be charged a graduating fee (see pic below). The city and the system’s operator, Alta Bicycle Share, will split profits from the program. The Department of Transportation will start rolling out the bikes in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn in July.
“It’s the newest way to get around town. It’s as easy as swiping a MetroCard or calling a cab,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “It’s the best deal in town short of the [free] Staten Island Ferry.”
The city has conducted hundreds of community meetings to get feedback on the station locations, and the DOT will release full maps later this week, Sadik-Khan said.
Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan have gotten some push back in the past for their support of cycling in the city most often tied to bike lanes, but the mayor seemed to preempt some of those criticisms, noting in the beginning of the news conference that “bike lanes and protected bike paths are making streets safer for everyone — cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.”
When a reporter asked about possible criticisms of the bike share program, Bloomberg said he couldn’t think of any effort of the mayor’s office where there’s not some kind of controversy or some newspaper reporting criticisms.
“There are critics of everything,” he said. “It’s just New York.”
At the end of the conference, he emphasized to reporters that he really thinks the bike share program is nothing but good.
“Bike share programs have been off the charts successful I think in every place they’ve been,” he said. “It’s going to be very successful here…and incidentally if it isn’t successful, the public will have lost nothing…There’s no downside.”