The summer of 2012 may be remembered as the time when bike sharing arrived in New York City, putting NYC on a par with bike-friendly locales such as Portland and Seattle. The program will roll out in July with 7,000 bicycles and 400 kiosks throughout the city.
The 2012 phase of the project will cover Manhattan below 69th Street, some of Long Island City, and one fourth of Brooklyn, although there will be no kiosks is South Williamsburg section of Brooklyn because of opposition from the Hassidic community that dominates that neighborhood. In 2013 the program will expand to cover Manhattan north of midtown and more of Brooklyn and Queens.
Other opponents include people who fear that the bikes will be rented primarily by tourists who do not know the city and will create hazards for pedestrians and other cyclists and result in more bicycle accidents – accidents that will be more serious than they might be because New York’s helmet law applies only to children under 14. Still others have objected to the cost to individuals, especially if the bike is kept past its scheduled return time. At some community meetings, people have raised objections to having nearby kiosks because of fears that the “wrong sort” of people will gather at the stations.
Proponents of the bike share program in New York point to the many miles of bike lanes and trails that the city has constructed in the past few years. Some studies have indicated that as long as the city maintains the trails and continues to add bike lanes, the number of bike accidents will not increase.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Bike-share program rides past neighborhood,” June 10, 2012.