Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mayor Bloomburg Pushes for Bike Sharing in NYC

Biking in New York City has been growing at a good clip in recent years, something that the local authorities have been encouraging with new infrastructure and policies. But something in missing from NYC's bike culture: a bike-sharing program. That might be about to change thanks to a proposal by Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The New York City bike share proposal would begin with 10,500 bikes, and quickly expand to 49,000 two-wheelers. The city is already home to several private bike rental companies, so the streets are already being flooded with tourists exploring the city by bike. By providing inexpensive alternatives for local residents and visitors to use, the amount of ridership in the city could quadruple and push 5+%.

The main complaints of the proposal is about accommodating more bike parking, reducing bike theft, and educating riders and drivers about the rules of the road. For all the complaints about rogue bike riders, the city says the dramatic reshaping of roads to accommodate riders is calming traffic. Traffic counts and studies are revealing that the notion of more bikes=safer bikes and pedestrians. One study found that after a car lane was eliminated and travel lanes for bicycles were added near Allen and Delancey streets, pedestrian injuries dropped 54 percent compared to the six prior years.


With most debates, there are "two sides to every story" and, after following cyclists going the wrong way or talking to people who have witnessed bike accidents, raises the question "is it a good idea to add more bikes to New York's streets?". Of course, they'd never follow around car drivers who don't follow the law or talk to victims of car accidents and ask "is it a good idea to add more cars to New York's streets?". There's always a double-standard about bikes...


The real solution to delinquent cyclists is not to reduce the number of riders, but rather to educate them about how to ride safely, to create infrastructure that makes it easy to do so, and to enforce the laws that already exist. Cities like Copenhagen have a lot more cyclists per capita than New York and their streets are enviably sane.

It's not yet clear when that program would launch and where the first stations would be, but it appears that NYC's bike culture is about to get even better.

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