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Bicycling

Zipcar, Meet Zipbike

1:00 PM EDT on March 30, 2007

Two remarkably similar yet fundamentally different campaigns are underway to promote vehicle sharing in the city.

Earlier this month the Brooklyn Record noted a new web site devoted to attracting Zipcar service to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

Zip Fort Greene says, "The closest [ZipCar] wheels are a brisk 15 minute walk (and once construction zipcar_09_1.jpgbegins on the Atlantic Yards project, getting a Zipcar for some weekend shopping -- forget about it)." The site has an online petition, which as of this writing has attracted 142 signees, in hopes of luring the company to establish a neighborhood "pod."

As Brooklyn Record points out, Zipcar stresses the "green benefits" of its service, which it touts as "a utility -- as valuable as electricity, heat, and hot water." According to Zipcar, many of its clients drive less and purchase and maintain fewer cars.

"With each Zipcar replacing over 20 privately-owned vehicles," the company says,  "we're changing the urban landscape." (In more ways than one.)

Meanwhile, an alliance between Transportation Alternatives and Clear Channel Communications could bring bike-sharing to New York, reports the Sun.

The program would work very much like Zipcar -- only with bikes. For a nominal annual fee, members would use a smart card to access the bikes at kiosks, with additional charges based on the how long the bike is rented.

The memberships and fees will ideally discourage stealing, according to T.A. Deputy Director Noah Budnick. As of now, three kiosks are planned -- for the East Village, Long Island City and Governors Island -- each equipped with about 100 bikes.

The proposal, which would require city approval, is modeled on successful efforts in Lyon, France, Stockholm, Sweden and Portland, Oregon.

Paris is about to debut a massive program of its own, with 1,450 kiosks and 20,000 bikes.

The New York program would be funded through Clear Channel ads on the bikes and at the kiosks -- another similarity to Zipcar, which plasters ads on its vehicles. Clear Channel already sponsors bike-sharing in Sweden, Spain, France and Norway, and should be coming soon to D.C. and Chicago.

Image: Moskow Architects 

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