New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CitiBank recently announced that the financial services giant will pay $41 million over five years to sponsor the city’s much-anticipated new bike sharing program. Called Citi Bike, the program will disperse 10,000 bikes at 600 stations across Manhattan by next summer at no cost to the city or taxpayers. The short-term bicycle rental option could transform transportation in Manhattan while creating 200 jobs.

citi bike, citibank, bike sharing, bicycling, bike sharing program, bikes, bicycles, public transportation, bicycle sharing, public transit

New York City is launching Citi Bike to offer residents and visitors more cost effective options to commute around town. The majority of trips in NYC, 54 percent according to city officials, are less than two miles. Citi Bike provides commuters an option to access a public transit station without the worries or hassle of maintenance and storage. The shared bicycles will also increase access to areas like waterfronts that lack subway coverage.

Citi Bike will work similarly to car sharing programs like Zipcar. Residents will pay an annual fee of $95, which entitles them to free trips if they are 45 minutes or less. Longer trips will then cost an additional $2.50, and accelerate in price if a journey lasts longer than 75 minutes. Visitors can buy a 24-hour or 7-day membership, but the free grace period is 30 minutes. Low-income New Yorkers can access the program for $60, payable in annual installments, and will also have the opportunity to sign up for low-cost banking at credit unions in order to join the bike sharing program.

The massive bicycle sharing program is a huge branding opportunity for CitiBank, based on the mayor’s slips of the tongue yesterday when he kept referring to the program by the bank’s name. But the program also opens doors to locals and citizens alike whether they will find it easier to go to the office or visit neighborhoods that are not always convenient by public transportation. Similar programs in Washington DC and Chicago have become popular whether they are used for sightseeing or running errands. With 700 miles of bike lanes in NYC and counting, these blue bikes could be the biggest splash of color the city has seen since yellow taxicabs hit the streets decades ago. Demonstrations of the system begin May 10 at Flatiron on Broadway between 22nd and 23rd.

+ Citi Bike

Via New York Times

Photos courtesy Citi Bike Share, Amanda Cohen for Inhabitat