Last week, we reported that Downtown Brooklyn will most likely get a bike share program in the next few years, but Manhattan’s program will be launching this summer. Crain’s reported that the city has identified two, possibly three, finalists that they are considering for the program: Alta Bicycle Share, based in Portland, Oregon; B-Cycle, owned by Wisconsin bicycle maker Trek, health insurer Humana and advertising firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky; and (possibly) BYKNYC.
Manhattan’s proposed bike share program will be privately funded, and applicants are being evaluated in part on how they would share revenue with the city. Advocates say this is the best method because the system does not rely on federal funding and taxpayers money, like many others do. Plans for the program call for about 600 bike stations throughout Manhattan south of 60th Street. Riders would be able to purchase daily, weekly, or annual memberships that would include a period of free riding pre-fee. Crain’s explains the different systems and challenges:
Alta’s and B-Cycle‘s plans would allow users to rent bikes from racks with locking mechanisms. In such a system, the racks are expensive but the bikes are not, making stolen bikes easier to replace. Riders would use credit cards to rent the bikes and would most likely be responsible for paying for replacements.
BYKNYC uses a different system. Developed by German railroad company Deutsche Bahn, it allows bikes to be locked to any fixed structure. Users can unlock bikes by calling a phone number and entering a code. The city plan calls for installing bike racks throughout the city so that bicycles don’t end up on random street corners.
No matter the technology, one of the biggest challenges will be finding space for the racks. The pilot program alone will need about 30 stations housing 300 bikes. The racks can’t be dependent on the city’s power grid and will most likely be run using solar panels.
Whoever the lucky winner is will sign a five-year contract and create the design for the 10,000 bikes that will have three speeds, a basket, and a GPS system. The president of Alta made a very good point to Crain’s: because New York City is such a big stage, whatever system gets implemented could change the face of bike sharing.