Bike sharing has been exploding for some time. Even though Vélib, the Parisian bike share, was instrumenal in showing that bike sharing could easily become a stylish form of transportation for urbanites, bike sharing hasn't been considered an economic 'engine'. Quite the contrary - cities struggling financially felt the start-up costs of a large-scale bike share prohibitive. So, they turned to corporate sponsors. Perhaps it is inevitable that all good ideas get commercialized. However, in the case of bike sharing, this can have the unfortunate result of shutting out some users who might most benefit from access to bicycles for short hop trips in city settings.
The Citi Bike system will be 100% privately funded with 600 stations and 10,000 bikes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Citi Bike's pricing is listed on its site as $95 for an annual pass, $25 for a 7-day pass, and $9.95 for 24-hour access. Ouch.The first 30 minutes are at no extra charge, but then rates climb sharply.
But the city of New York has plans to making sure the Citi Bikes are accessible to New Yorkers "of all income levels". A program is being developed, according to the web site, so that qualifying New Yorkers will be able to purchase a reduced annual membership for $60, payable in quarterly installments.
Also from the site:
There is also an affordability program that will be available to all NYCHA residents, as well as members of Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs) who primarily serve low-income clients and have signed on to be bike share partners. Low-income New Yorkers who are currently unbanked would be able to sign up for a low-or no-cost bank account with a participating CDCU in order to obtain a reduced-fee bike share membership.
Alta Bicycle Share designed the system - and the front 'rack' attached to the handlebars can hold bags/purses, with an elastic strap 'that can hold materials in place'. New York's Municipal Art Society (MAS) thinks bike share will reduce short auto trips in the city.
President Vin Cipolla issued a press statement:
“MAS sees tremendous potential in New York City’s bike share program. In addition to increasing mobility, bike share will help introduce people to active transportation, alleviate pressure on transit, provide a quicker connection between transit stops and final destinations, and reduce the number of short auto trips.”