Director of Policy for DOT, Jon Orcutt, addressed board members and residents, highlighting some of the program's features, which the city plans to have fully implemented by July 2012.
“We've been watching this unfold around the world and learning how this is working in other places and trying to figure out what we want in New York,” Orcutt said. “We think we've now learned enough to bring this to the city.”
After the city issued a request for proposals last year seeking companies to implement the program, Alta Bicycle Share was chosen. The Oregon-based company will singlehandedly run the program without any government subsidies or funding, relying mainly on sponsors instead of taxpayer dollars. The company also runs bike share programs in Boston and Washington, D.C.
The bike share program will feature a fleet of heavy-duty public bikes. The bikes ride in three different gears and will be placed around the city in automatic docking stations.
“They're built for stability, not for speed," Orcutt said. "At 40 pounds, they're good for ebb and flow of traffic and for getting you where you need to go.”
The city is hoping to install 10,000 bikes around New York City at 600 stations, which will be located every few blocks.
The plan is to install the bikes in Manhattan below 80th Street, as well as in a large portion of Brooklyn along the East River. Orcutt said that “a good portion of CB 1” will be included in the share.
“We're seeing twice the ridership expected on East River Ferry, so there is clearly a hunger for some new options for getting around in the city and especially in those areas that are not right along the subway corridors,” he said. “We think it would be a good addition to the mix of transportation options.”
According to the DOT, options for “satellite” programs for Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx are also being considered. Orcutt noted that Long Island City, Queens, would most likely be one location for a satellite bike share program.
The DOT is planning to work closely with the community to determine where stations will go. At next month's CB1 Transportation Committee meeting, DOT will present the plans once more to initiate active discussion and input by community members.
The DOT and the community will work together to figure out where stations should be located. Orcutt noted that stations cannot be located near fire hydrants, pedestrian walkways, bus stops or busy corridors.
“You tell us what doesn't work, what we missed, what you want to suggest," Orcutt said. "We don't care where they go as long as we are able to arrange them in a good density and the stations are visible to people.”
In addition to local community boards, the DOT is also talking to business improvement districts and civic associations for input.
The stations in New York will vary in size according to neighborhood density. And while places like Paris and London have permanently installed bike stations, Orcutt said that New York will not.
“We want to go with a less-expensive station design and one that's more flexible for the city,” he said.
The stations can be set up in under one hour. They can be placed on streets, sidewalks, plazas and grassy areas. They can easily be moved, removed and expanded if the demand for bikes in a particular area is higher than expected.
The city plans to make the bike share program affordable for all New Yorkers. An annual pass will cost between $90-95. It will allow one to use the bikes an unlimited number of times a day as long as each trip is under 45 minutes. After that, a rider will be charged hourly.
A day pass will cost between $8-10 and a weekly pass between $20-25.
The DOT is also looking into how everyone can access the bikes, including those without credit cards.
“We want to use bike sharing system as a platform to really hammer home rules of the road for cycling on New York City streets and to use this as away to elevate cycling safety in the city,” Orcutt said.
Orcutt added that the number of accidents on public bikes in other cities is lower than accidents on privately owned bikes. Each bike will have a “rules of the road” guide on the handlebars as well as at stations.
In the spring, Alta Bicycle Share will test how the bike share bikes and equipment stand up in New York City.
Residents can visit nyc.gov/bikeshare to suggest a location for a station.