City’s First Bike Share Planned for Governors Island


It ain’t the Velib, but yesterday it was announced that Dutch team West 8 would design a 40-acre park for Governors Island, which will include a fleet of 3,000 wooden bicycles free for use by island visitors.

The Times reports:

The design, commissioned by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, calls for transforming much of the flat, sober island, which is roughly a half-mile from Lower Manhattan, into green space. That includes a two-mile promenade at the water’s edge, a new park on the southern flat expanse of landfill – where abandoned Coast Guard buildings are to be demolished – and an improved park in the island’s northern historic district. The architects proposed using the detritus from the buildings that are to be destroyed to form hills that would exploit the island’s views, which include the Statue of Liberty.

The Post, which says the Governors Island Gondola could also become reality, had a somewhat dispiriting quote from Mayor Bloomberg on the bike share feature, particularly when juxtaposed with designer Adriaan Geuze’s comments.

Adriaan Geuze, founder of West 8, said the company’s Dutch background made including bicycles in the plan a no-brainer.

"I am from Holland, where bicycles are an important part of street life, and everybody bikes," he said. "You could never walk the entire island, but the bikes will help get people to experience more of the island and go anywhere they want to."

Bloomberg said he was particularly impressed by the bike theme, joking "it’s a great idea; you don’t have to worry about them being stolen" because "you can’t take them anyplace" off the island.

The Times says the park is expected to be completed by 2012.

Rendering: West 8/Rogers Marvel Architects/Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Quennell Rothschild/SMWM

  • Bill

    Good idea, but 3000 bikes on such a small piece of land is a bit much.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Bill’s right, it’s a little like the 3,000 bike rack installed along the 7 blocks of cycle track on 9th Ave. But I actually see a ray of hope in the Bloomberg wisecrack, because I think theft and vandalism is probably the #1 concern with brining velib to New York. I take Bloomberg’s comment as evidence that velib has been seriously considered at top levels of city government. And if that is the key obstacle to an NYC velib, I think it can definitely be addressed–through a hefty credit card deposit required for velib users and/or gps tracking technology embedded in the bikes.

    I am looking forward to visiting Govorner’s Island with the new West 8 redesign (though I probably won’t use the velib there much because they let you cut to front of the line on the ferry if you have your bike with you!).

  • Jonathan

    bicyclesonly, I believe that the big obstacle to municipal bike-share is the liability issue. People love to sue the city for anything, witness this gem from 2002:

    In Fiscal Year 2002 approximately $53MM of the $546MM paid out in settlements and judgments are related to trip and fall cases. That amount is based on 2,652 total settlements and judgments of which 1,410 settlements, more than half, were negotiated by [the city Controller’s] office.

    Fifty-three million bucks pays for a lot of bicycles, and that’s only the cost from broken (yet motionless) sidewalks. Imagine how much accidents involving moving bicycles might cost the city.

  • ln

    The first bike sharing I saw was in Berlin, the very distinctive bikes, you could spot them anywhere, were locked all over the city. You were supposed to call a number with your credit card, and they would give you the unlocking code. I was in Berlin the first week that this started, maybe 10 years ago.

    This was after the wall was down, but still, how did one get stolen all the way to the west coast of the US? Two weeks later I saw one locked up outside a cafe in Seattle.

    Whats with the wooden bikes? Those will last a few months only in NYC weather.

  • mfs

    I think this will work on Gov’ Island for sure. They had this program in Charlottesville, VA a couple years back and all of the bikes were stolen, despite their completely obvious appearance as the town bicycle (insert yo’ mama joke here).

    Also, look out for a series of half-baked, announcements regarding major developments that represent a small procedure step like this as Doctoroff gets ready to bolt. My predictions: Brooklyn Bridge Park, East River waterfront on LES, and Queens West

  • glennQ

    Comment by ln: “Whats with the wooden bikes?”

    I can’t imagine a wood frame being as durable (or as inexpensive) as a traditional steel double-triangle frame. There is a reason the design is so popular…


  • JW

    I’m not sure getting free dutch bikes is a fair trade for also having to get hideous dutch architecture.

  • Clarence Darrow

    Gee…how do you spell “liability”? Yet another boner of an idea, if you ask me!


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