City to Pursue “Large-Scale” Bike-Share for the Big Apple

After a long and tantalizing build-up, New York City will officially declare its intent to pursue a public bike-share system tomorrow, when it releases a request for proposals to potential operators, the Times reports. At a sufficient scale, the introduction of bike-sharing here promises to open up cycling to huge numbers of New Yorkers by making it more accessible and convenient.

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Rendering of a bike-sharing station at the Roosevelt Island F train station. Image: AccessRI/Hunter College Dept. of Urban Affairs and Planning.

Information on the potential size, density, and geographic reach of the system is sketchy-to-nonexistent at this point. Michael Grynbaum reports that it will consist of “hundreds or even thousands of bicycles” and that payment will probably be accepted using a subscription model. Update: Andrea Bernstein reports that the program would include about 10,000 bicycles. That is a serious number.

A report released last year by the Department of City Planning recommended a phased implementation, starting with 10,000 bicycles and growing to a system of 49,000. Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C. have all launched systems in the 500 to 1,100 bicycle range in recent months. London made the biggest bike-share splash this year when it debuted a 6,000-bike system which has been embraced by more than 100,000 subscribers. The system will expand to at least 8,000 bikes sometime before the 2012 Olympics.

We should have details from the RFP tomorrow morning. For now, we’ll leave you with the first public reaction to the news, from the Times’ story:

Told of the plan late Monday, Dan Biederman, the president of the 34th Street Partnership, expressed support for the idea. “Almost every one of the mayor and the transportation commissioner’s innovations in the area of street life have been good for New York,” Mr. Biederman said. “We are positive on them experimenting with ideas imported from other places.”

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