Bike sharing finally comes to New York City


Tourists sit on bikes at a Citi Bike station. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

It took a while, but New York City finally caught up with D.C. and joined the ranks of metropolitan areas with bike sharing programs.

New York’s Citi Bike program launched Monday with thousands of big, clunky blue bicycles becoming available for use. But before the bikes even hit the road, the new service was beset by delays and, as the debut approached, complaints and lawsuits.

The Post’s Ashley Halsey III reported from New York in the days before the launch:

Like most New York controversies, it is louder than it is large. Average New Yorkers take things in stride. The rest of them complain. And then they file lawsuits.

“It’s typical New York. They don’t want change,” says Anthony Amato, 39, while walking his Boston terrier, Pandora, down West 77th Street. “And they don’t want it in front of their building.”

Most of the ruckus has been about this “it.” When were asked about the city’s relatively new web of bike lanes, two out of three New Yorkers said they liked them, far more than when Mayor Michael Bloomberg began installing them. About a third of the people surveyed recently by the New York Times said they might try the bike-sharing program. 

Then “it” began to appear: long rows of gray docking stations for the bikes, sometimes 50 to 60 of them in a single block in midtown Manhattan. Worse than that, some of the almost 330 stations were installed on narrow neighborhood streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

New York’s program was already supposed to be up and running, with delays blamed on software issues and flooding from Superstorm Sandy. (In Washington, meanwhile, bike sharing is just a fact of life thanks to Capital Bikeshare, which has more than 22,000 members and 1,800 bikes in the D.C. area. )

Citi Bike’s launch Monday largely went off without a hitch — though at least one bike was reported stolen. People seemed to enjoy using the bikes, which are currently only available in Manhattan (south of 60th Street) and Brooklyn:

The New York Times had reporters test the system to see how the bikes compare to traveling on the subway, creating a nifty timelapse video that depicts the process. WNYC also had three staffers race using different modes of transportation (Citi Bike, taxi and subway), and the results could surprise you (unless you think bike sharing wins, in which case the results probably won’t surprise you).

People certainly flocked to Citi Bike on its first day. As of Monday at 5 p.m., the system had more than 16,000 members and there had been more than 6,000 trips taken. (It’s perhaps unfair to compare Citi Bike and Bikeshare in this regard, as Monday was the New York system’s inaugural day — we’re going to do it anyway, but we wanted to note it is a tad unfair — yet Citi Bike clearly has a way to go to catch Bikeshare’s single-day record of 11,368 rides.)

The bikes also made it onto the cover of this week’s New Yorker, which was created by artist Marcellus Hall, who has biked in New York City for 15 years:

 

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Dana Hedgpeth · May 28, 2013