Damage From Sandy Pushes Bike-Share Launch From March to May

This just in from NYC DOT: After bike-share equipment stored in the Brooklyn Navy Yard sustained damage in the Sandy storm surge, the city’s public bike system is now set to launch in May, not March. The initial service area will also be about three-quarters as large as the plan before the storm. Instead of beginning with 7,000 bikes at 420 stations, then ramping up to 10,000 bikes, the May launch will consist of 5,500 bikes at 293 stations, expanding to 7,000 bikes by the end of 2013. The city still intends to implement a 10,000-bike system, though in 2014, a new administration will be in place.

Given the reports of extensive damage that surfaced after Sandy, the news that a spring launch is still in the works comes as something of a relief. At 5,500 bikes, the initial fleet would still surpass Montreal’s Bixi as the largest in North America. “We’re thankful the storm spared so much of the equipment and grateful to see the program will still launch in the spring,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White said in a statement.

The damage to electrical components is the major hurdle to overcome, according to DOT. Here’s their full press release:

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) today announced that because of damage to bike share equipment caused by Hurricane Sandy, Citi Bike will launch in May 2013 with at least 5,500 bikes implemented at 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The revised timeline was agreed to by all parties and will not impact the $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system, and with NYCBS profits to be split with the City during the six-year contract. Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge flooded NYCBS’s facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River, and where about two-thirds of the system’s equipment had been stored before the Oct. 29 storm. While portions of the system’s equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, many parts of the system containing electrical components must have individual parts refurbished or replaced. NYCBS is currently working to identify, repair and replace these damaged parts, aided through insurance and supplemented by equipment that wasn’t stored at the Navy Yard, as well as by additional equipment from its supplier and from elsewhere in the delivery pipeline.

“DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

The timeline will affect the phasing for neighborhoods in the initial launch area. The 5,500 bikes will be located in the densest and most geographically contiguous parts of the service area in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in Brooklyn as work continues to extend to 7,000 bikes in the remaining parts of the Brooklyn service area and into Long Island City, Queens, by the end of 2013. Details will be announced as planning continues. And while planning is underway to launch the initial system in May, we remain committed to bringing the system to 10,000 bikes.

  • Mike

    Ugh. Any details about which parts of Brooklyn are being delayed?

  • Mike

    Ugh. Any details about which parts of Brooklyn are being delayed?

  • Mike

    Ugh. Any details about which parts of Brooklyn are being delayed?

  • Mike

    Ugh. Any details about which parts of Brooklyn are being delayed?

  • J

    Nooooo… If there is anything that’s going to maintain momentum for more bicycle infrastructure in the next administration, it’s bike share, but the system keeps getting smaller, and the length of time it’s in place before a new administration takes over keeps getting shorter. 

    We were first promised 10,000 bikes by July 2012. Then it was 7,000 in March 2013, expanding to 10,000 bikes. Now it’s 5,500 bikes by May 2013, expanding to 7,000. 

    In the last 6 months we’ve had the system size cut in half and the start date pushed back an entire year. Come on, DOT. I know there was a freak hurricane and a crazy software trouble, but this is getting ridiculous.

  • @Uptowner13:disqus   the hurricane isnt to blame.

    DC wanted to install 54 additional stations this fall, but the bike share company was unable to provide the hardware. They simply don’t have the capability to supply all the cities they’ve signed up with. If they cant make 54 stations in a year where both NYC and Chicago got delayed, theres no way they can meet their 2013 demands. Boston also fell 10 stations short of what was stated.

    In the end, everyone loses because they promised things they can’t deliver on, and the cities didnt do their due diligence and agreed.

  • Albert

    A suggestion:

    Use some of the undamaged bike share equipment to install a temporary mini bike share system in Lower Manhattan, specifically designed for those whose subway commute has been affected by the storm-related long-term closing of the South Ferry subway station.

    Make this temporary system free for those whose Metrocards show an exit from a nearby subway station within the previous, say, 1/2 hour.

    Besides helping these storm-affected commuters, this system would be a great introduction of bike share to those who might not otherwise realize how bike share can extend the reach of the traditional public transit system.

  • Guest

    The good news is that the contract was extended from five to six years from the launch date, according to the WSJ.

    That means bike share will continue at least until the next mayor’s second term or in a different mayor’s first.  Plenty of time for bike share to take root, grow, and become something that any future administration will want to embrace.

  • J

    @Jamesboat:disqus Good point. I forgot about the general backlog in bikeshare system orders. Taking a longer view, I guess too much demand for bicycles is WAY better than too little demand. The fact that so many cities are ordering bikeshare systems makes me more confident that a local setback in the coming NYC mayoral election will be a blip in the radar of a larger movement towards cycling.

  • Anonymous

    Alta is sure not seeming ready for primetime. It’s a new technology, so there are some bumps to be expected, but they’re definitely at two strikes. 

  • Anonymous

    Alta is sure not seeming ready for primetime. It’s a new technology, so there are some bumps to be expected, but they’re definitely at two strikes. 

  • “Make this temporary system free for those whose Metrocards show an exit from a nearby subway station within the previous, say, 1/2 hour.”

    No go. Alta’s software system is tangled in litigation, and so making modifications to it is just not going to happen. 

    If it’s any consolation, the system’s success in Boston is going to make naysayers look ridiculous, and cut down their clout, no matter who the next mayor of NY is. 

  • @Uptowner13:disqus  they arent the only company that makes the bikes and stations though, so if their main US competitor had more contracts, things would be better balanced out. Youd be surprised to find that Miami beach is the most used system in the country, and its not an alta/bixi system.

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