Citigroup sponsors New York's bike-share program
By Lisa Fickenscher
Thousands of bright blue bicycles emblazoned with Citigroup's logo will hit the city streets this summer as part of the much anticipated bike share program.
The first bikes will be introduced at the end of July in parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, with the rest of the rollout--10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in total--to be completed a year from now.
In September, the city selected Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Ore., to operate the system, but charged the company with soliciting private funds to run the program and pay for the equipment.
"We are getting an entirely new transportation system without spending a dime of taxpayers' money," the mayor crowed.
It is, in fact, the only bike share program worldwide that is not subsidized by government funds. There are seven such programs in the U.S., and Alta runs those in Boston and Washington.
MasterCard will be the program's exclusive payment sponsor and is coughing up $6.5 million for the privilege. It will equip the bike share stations with PayPass Tap & Go payment machines and magnetic strip terminals.
The program is aimed primarily at locals who would use the bikes instead of a taxi, bus or subway, but tourists may also be interested because the program offers options for renting the bikes on a weekly or daily basis. Annual memberships will cost $95; a weekly pass will go for $25; and daily passes will be available for $9.95. But there are added fees to the base rates that would discourage riders from taking the bikes out for a long spin. The first 45 minutes are free to people who have an annual membership, while the first 30 minutes are free for weekly and daily passes. An additional 30 minutes beyond the free period will cost $4, while 90 minutes will cost an extra $13. Up to two hours will cost $25. Every 30 minutes beyond that will run an additional $12.
A spokesman for DOT said in an email, "It's important to note that this is bike share, not bike rental. New Yorkers generally don't take a lot of four-hour taxi trips and we don't expect many four-hour bike share trips."
In Washington, 97% of monthly and annual users return their bikes within 30 minutes and incur no additional charges, the spokesman pointed out.
"It's the best deal in town, short of the Staten Island Ferry," said Ms. Sadik-Khan.
Each bike will have a bell, as well as front and rear lights. The bikes can be rented 24 hours a day.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit compared the program to Zipcar and pointed to his company's efforts to support green initiatives.
"We have reduced our carbon footprint by 13% over the past five years," he said.
Later this week, the city will announce the first locations of the bike stations.
The program is being launched at a time when interest in biking has never been higher--but there has also been rancor over the city's bike lane rollout with some communities objecting to the more than 250 miles of bike lanes that have been installed over the past several years.
Mr. Bloomberg became testy at one point when a reporter asked him about the objections to the bike lanes, saying, "What is there not to like?"
The news comes on the heels of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, which took place on Sunday and held its first-ever bike expo last week. Bike New York, which produces the 40-mile tour, said the expo attracted 43,000 attendees, well more than 32,000 cyclists participating in the ride, making it the largest event of its kind.
Clarification: Annual memberships for the Citi Bike program will cost $95; a weekly pass will go for $25; and daily passes will be available for $9.95. But there are also added fees to the base rates. The first 45 minutes are free to people who have an annual membership, while the first 30 minutes are free for weekly and daily passes. An additional 30 minutes beyond the free period will cost $4, while 90 minutes will cost an extra $13. Up to two hours will cost $25. Every 30 minutes beyond that will run an additional $12. The fee schedule was not clear in an earlier version of this article, published May 7, 2012.
Submitted by joseph on May 11, 2012 - 14:20. categories [ ]