New York's New Bike-Sharing Plan is a Model for the Country

 New York City is at the tipping point of becoming one of the world's great bicycling cities. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and the New York City Department of Transportation (DoT) have done a tremendous job creating a more bicycle-friendly New York. According to the DoT, commuter cycling increased by 13% between 2009 and 2010. In the last five years, bicycle ridership has doubled. Since 2009, the city has added more than 200 miles of bike lanes. As president and CEO of Bike New York, I applaud and support DoT's ambitious goal of having 1,800 miles of bikelanes on the streets, in parks and along paths, by 2030.

With the announcement Tuesday that Alta Bicycle Share has been selected as the company to bring bike sharing to New York City, the landscape of the Big Apple is going to change even more. Next summer, 10,000 bike share bicycles will be all over the city at 600 stations, creating the biggest bike share program in the nation. In cities all across the world, it has been proven to be a successful and popular transportation option – checking out a bike at one station and riding it to another station close to your destination. It'll alleviate congestion and crowds on the streets, buses and subways. It's an easy and accessible way to fight obesity and pollution. You don't have to worry about your bike getting stolen. You don't have to worry about maintenance. You don't have to worry about storing it in your small New York apartment.

Press recently noted that the Washington DC bike share system is so successful that they need to install more stations and bikes to meet the demand. I foresee the same situation in NYC. While innovative programs such as bike sharing may take a while to understand, when people see the benefits of such a program, support and participation grows exponentially.

With 10,000 more bikes available on the streets of New York City next year, it is extremely important – now more than ever – to promote safe, courteous cycling skills. The city is continuing to build a fantastic network of bike lanes to make it easier and safer to get around, but a bicycle is only as safe as the person riding it.

Bike New York is dedicated to bicycling and bicycling safety through education, public events and collaboration with community organisations and government. Besides running the famous annual Five Boro Bike Tour, with 30,000 riders, we teach more than 2,000 adults and kids how to ride bikes every summer, and work with thousands more at parks, summer camps and after-school programs. We offer free classes to people of all ages and of all bicycling skill levels, promoting and creating safe bicycling habits. So we support our city's bike sharing program – not only because it will make bicycling more accessible and appealing, but because it will force us, as New Yorkers, to ride responsibly, safely and share the road.

A city known for its sea of yellow taxis and crowded streets, New York City is becoming a town no one thought was possible. With this bike share plan, New York City will transform itself into the nation's top bicycling city. All eyes will be on us to see if the program succeeds or fails. Bike sharing is such an important change, and change is always challenging. But this will be a game-changer for NYC; get ready for it.


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