Governors Island to Serve as Testing Ground for NYC Bike-Share

Visitors to Governors Island will get to ride these bikes for free on Fridays this summer.

Last December Streetsblog noted that a new park planned for Governors Island would include a bike-share fleet, scheduled to debut in 2012. Turns out the wait for free bikes will be a lot shorter. Starting this week, 250 bikes at the island’s rental outfit, Bike and Roll, will be available to visitors at no charge on Fridays, thanks to sponsorship from Transportation Alternatives.

While it may not measure up to Vélib, "Free Bike Fridays" is vying with a new NYU student program for the distinction of launching New York’s first bike-share. The Governors Island initiative may also have a lasting impact on the rest of the city. According to a press release, the results will be watched intently by DOT:

"Spaces like Governors Island serve as great training areas for the next generation of New York City cyclists," said City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "This summer the Island will also serve as a great testing ground — we’ll be evaluating the bike share program to see if it is something that may be successful in other parts of the city."

Today, Governor’s Island. Tomorrow, the East Village?

  • Josh

    So, no ugly wood bicycles then? Excellent!

  • But what are these? Single speed coaster brake cruisers? That’s may be ok on Gov Island, but hardly a good way to introduce biking.

    Why not a sturdy 3-speed hub with normal brakes like the French have done?

  • gecko

    A ferry going a few hundred yards across to Brooklyn would be nice.

  • These look like the 87$ huffy walmart special. Don’t think thats the right attitude to take with a bike sharing program. In Paris they went upscale, which I think makes it more popular, and people respect the bikes more.

    I also agree that doing it on Gov Island is a bit of a cop out. They need to be in the city and visible to both motorists and pedestrians as the much more efficient, convenient, and cheap alternative form of Transportation.

  • JRV

    What’s actually being demonstrated here? Renting designer bikes to tourists on car-free Governor’s Island will be popular. So what? How is this practically different than the bike rental that’s been in Central Park since forever? This is hype.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    You missed the best part of the press release:

    Bike and Roll™ will also rent four-person bike surreys

    As soon as my back heals, I am so rounding up three friends to head over there!

  • Oh, glad they spent money on the important stuff—like registering the trademark Bike and Roll!

  • @JRV – This isn’t bike renting, nor are these designer bikes, it’s bike-sharing. Bike Rentals are for tourists looking to visit and take a ride. Bike-sharing is for regular use within a city by residents of that city, as an alternate form of transportation.

    If you want to learn more about what they did in paris, look it up, its called Velib ( )

    Hopefully NYC won’t present a low budget, small scale version of this as a proof of concept that it won’t work here in NYC. Its going to take a lot of commitment ( as this article points out, they are going to remove 400,000 parking spaces! )

    Now thats commitment to livable usable bike friendly streets.

  • neb

    As a Washingtonian, I would love to see a bike share program so that I could use a bike when up in NYC. (Of course, we’re still waiting for the program here to actually start – first March, then April, May, now June.)

  • AM

    @evbart – You might want to verify the 400,000 parking space reduction. I think that was an April Fool’s posting!

  • JRV

    “Bike-sharing is for regular use within a city by residents of that city, as an alternate form of transportation.” Exactly, that’s why this is not a “bike share” and is a tourist rental. Governor’s Island is not “within a city.” It’s an island off the street grid with limited access via ferry. It has no industry, a handful of residents and a bunch of people employed figuring out what to do with it and how to keep it from falling apart. This is glorified bike rental for tourists (local or foreign) visiting the island — a very small car-free island that used to be a haven for people to stroll around, unmolested by people on wheels. To even mention Velibe in the same breath is laughable. Velibe is public mass transit in the heart of a major city. This is tourist bike rental. It is has no utilitarian purpose and will replace walking trips only, since there are no cars or buses or anything else except lawnmowers.

  • Jan

    Will anything ever satisfy? Jeez.

  • Stacy

    These bikes bear a strange resemblance to the free bikes given away by Amstel Light Beer last month.

    Somehow I wonder if maybe, like Amstel, they’re not expecting too many of these bikes to get returned.

  • Josh

    “Somehow I wonder if maybe, like Amstel, they’re not expecting too many of these bikes to get returned.”

    Are people going to smuggle them off Governor’s Island on the ferry under their clothes or something?

  • Stacy

    “Are people going to smuggle them off Governor’s Island on the ferry under their clothes or something?”

    Is that a challenge?

  • JRV

    Satisfaction? Turn down the hype and just call things what they are. A bike rental kiosk on Governor’s Island is a perfectly nice idea.

  • Margo

    I wonder how this will compare to the NYU bike share…

  • C$

    Why is everyone hatin?
    This is a good thing people. Even “Huffy-like-bikes” will start to change the not- in-my-city bike culture.

  • gecko

    Perrrrfectly nice indeed!

  • We (GIPEC)actually went back and forth about “bike share” ourselves quite a bit. Our goal is simply this: get people on bikes for free. Part of our strategy to bring Governors Island back to life is to get people out here to experience the Island right now. Since biking is one of the best ways to see Governors Island, we wanted to make sure that everyone has the chance to enjoy biking our car-free roads and see the amazing views.

    Also, we see Free Bike Fridays as a step toward the vision of free bikes for all in Governors Island’s future park and Great Promenade. These public bikes aren’t just the best way to explore the Island now, but they’ll also be an important part of the experience the new park and Great Promenade that West 8 and its team will begin design on later this year (with lots of input from you all, I hope).

    We know that this isn’t Velib, but we doubted many people had ever heard of the witfiets of Hogue Veluwe, which is the bike share program we hope to model ourselves on in the future. I actually met with JC Decaux in Paris last year when we were looking at all the ways to get the public on bikes for free and got a full tour of Velib. We decided that a low-tech approach was better for us right now, and we’re excited that Transportation Alternatives is making this happen for free on Fridays and that Bike and Roll is renting on the other days. I hope you get a chance to come out and see for yourselves.


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