With much talk about the forthcoming New York City Bike Share, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Alta Bicycle Share have been giving sneak peaks of what’s to come. Inhabitat caught them at the Essex Street Market this past Saturday where representatives were on hand to answer questions about the program and show off the bike model. The bike share is predicted to launch this July and will bring an estimated 10,000 bikes and 600 stations conveniently located throughout the city.

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The program itself will be privately funded and Alta Bicycle Share, which runs similar programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston, will manage operations. The DOT will oversee aspects of the program and eventually become a shareholder in the company, but no taxpayer money will go towards the program. The idea is that it will function as a self-sustaining business, generating revenue from user fees and private sponsorship. At the moment, Alta is searching for a private sponsor to provide enough funding to launch the program.

The bike share will start with stations south of 79th Street in Manhattan and stretching into northwestern Brooklyn with plans to eventually extend it to the other boroughs. Of all the trips an average New Yorker makes, 54 percent are less than two miles, and the bike share offers an affordable and often more time-efficient alternative to other public transportation options. For instance, a single subway ride costs $2.25 and as a bike share member, any ride less than 45 minutes is free. Yearly memberships are estimated to cost around $90-95 with weekly, and there will be daily options offered for tourists or those who may not use the program as much.

In terms of safety, riders will be responsible for providing their own helmet and other gear. Because helmets are not required by NY State for those over 12 years of age and also for sanitary reasons, Alta will not offer helmet shares. However, the DOT will increase its free helmet fittings which have already served over 50,000 riders.

The bikes themselves weigh about 43 pounds and feature comfortable seats, durable frames, bells, a bike-powered light and a basket. Alta will use the same bike model as in Boston and D.C., but the color and sponsor name will distinguish New York’s bikes from other cities.

As a run up to the program, the DOT has created drop-in Community Workshops to gather community input. It has also created an open online forum where residents can contribute ideas for station locations. The website already received an overwhelming 9,000 suggestions!

If you didn’t get to the preview at the Essex Street Market, an exhibition at the Center for Architecture that runs through February 4th offers a great alternative. Bike share bikes from around the world are on display and the exhibition includes video and information about bike share systems as well as an explanation of how bike share will work in New York City. With the existing 700 miles of bike lanes city-wide, the bike share program will undoubtedly be an added incentive for non-riders to test out a pair of wheels and make physical activity a part of their daily routine!

+ NYC Department of Transportation

+ Alta NYC Bicycle Share

Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat