Interest in New York City’s bike-sharing plans seems to be running high in the industry, if today’s “pre-proposal conference” is any indication. A packed room that included many of the major players in the bike-sharing industry gathered at NYC DOT headquarters to get the scoop on what New York, potentially the nation’s largest bike-sharing market, is looking for.
In attendance were at least three of the largest bike-sharing operators: JCDecaux, Public Bike System, and B-cycle. JCDecaux made bike-sharing famous with the very large and very popular Vélib system in Paris. Public Bike System runs Montréal’s Bixi system, as well as providing the equipment for the new systems in Washington D.C. and Minneapolis. B-cycle is a bit newer to the scene, running Denver’s system and the Chicago bike-sharing pilot. The other big bike-sharing company is advertiser ClearChannel; after looking over the sign-in sheet and making some rounds in the audience of over 60, I couldn’t confirm whether they sent a representative.
Just because a firm attended this morning’s conference doesn’t mean they’ll be submitting a bid. (“No comment,” said a Public Bike System rep when asked about his plans.) They might still be making up their minds, gleaning information to help them decide, or just keeping up with the state of the industry.
Other kinds of companies were in attendance too. Firms like Mastercard and electronics manufacturer LG might have been more interested in sponsorship opportunities, for example. Bike manufacturer Worksman Cycles could have an interest in supplying the bikes themselves.
The conference itself didn’t reveal much that wasn’t in the city’s RFP, but it was noteworthy how insistent DOT officials were that the 10,000 bike number that’s been thrown about is merely one option. “There is no number. There is no geographical area,” said one DOT rep. The actual range that bidders propose could be smaller or larger than the suggestion in the RFP of 10,000 bikes concentrated in Manhattan below 60th Street and parts of northwest Brooklyn. Hopefully the strong interest on display today will push bidders toward even larger systems in an effort to win the contract.