Say Hi to Citi Bike

Image courtesy NYC DOT

It’s here.

After half a decade of advocacy, years of planning and months of delay, Citi Bike, New York City’s bike share system, is ready to roll and set to revolutionize the way residents and visitors get around town.

Early signs of success are everywhere. When Annual Memberships to the program went on sale for $95 a year in mid-April, more than 5,000 people signed up within 30 hours. To put that figure in context, only 2,000 people signed up for Washington, D.C.’s bike share program in the first month, Denver’s system currently has fewer than 3,000 annual members, and there are only 7,400 members of Boston’s Hubway bike share. Clearly, the demand for bike share’s brand of fill-in-the-gap transportation is abundant in New York City, and consumers are chomping at the bit to take advantage.

And then there are the stations: Long, solar-powered and minimal, 300 of these self-supporting kiosks are now on the ground and ready to go. The result of one of the largest public outreach efforts in New York City history—including more than 400 community meetings and a webpage that received more than 10,000 recommendations—the stations are smartly situated, well designed and adorned with maps that benefit every street user.

As of press time, the actual bikes are not yet in service (the program opens for Annual Members on May 27 and on June 2 for everyone else) but a number of T.A. staffers have had the pleasure of pedaling the big, blue, practical Citi Bikes, and every indication is that they’ll be fun, reliable and perfectly suited for the rigors of urban cycling.

Since 2007, Transportation Alternatives has pushed the City towards adopting a bike share system. From conferences to closed-door meetings to staff members who traded their advocate-hat for a City-employee suit, bike share has been a small part of every new mile of bike lane and every new livable street improvement that Transportation Alternatives has fought for and won.

Bike share isn’t just a brand new transit system, it’s a watershed moment in the evolution of New York City streets. It will further normalize cyclists, continue to tame traffic, allow millions of people a year to develop a handlebars perspective and make streets safer and more efficient for everyone—drivers, bikers, walkers and straphangers.

It’s finally here, and everything is about to change.

Image courtesy Andrew Hinderaker