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New York City to launch public bike share scheme this summer

The city’s awaited bike scheme, launching this summer, will provide a “new, affordable, 24/7 transportation option for New Yorkers” according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bikes in the Williamsburg section of the Brooklyn borough of New York
Bikes in the Williamsburg section of the Brooklyn borough of New York
Image: Bebeto Matthews/AP/Press Association Images

NEW YORK CITY’s awaited bike scheme is to be launched at the end of July, with $41 million being invested by the corporate sponsor Citibank, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today.

The scheme will be the largest public bike scheme in the United States, with 600 docking stations located across Manhattan and Brooklyn, and will be operated by Alta bicycle share – which already runs similar projects in Boston and Washington DC.

Bloomber has released a statement about the scheme, saying that the programme will “provide a new, affordable, 24/7 transportation option for New Yorkers and will launch in July 2012 in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.” He also explained that it would not come at any extra cost to taxpayers because of the sponsorship from Citi.

However, the cost of participation in the scheme has been criticised.

As with other public biking programmes, there is a subscription cost: $95 per year, $25 per week, or $10 per day. There is no charge for the first half hour of use, after which charges begin at $4.

Although the pricing system appears to be designed to encourage short-term use, it is nevertheless significantly more expensive than the cost of similar schemes in other cities.

For example, in contrast, the cost of annual subscription in Washington DC is $75 (or $84 if paid in installments), $25 per 30 days, $15 per 3 days, and $7 for 24 hours. The first half an hour is free, after which charges begin at $1.50.

Similarly, in London the annual charge is £45, the charge for 7 days is £5, and the charge for 24 hours is £1. The first half hour is free, after which charges begin at £1.

Although Dublin is not comparable in size, the city’s bike scheme is also less expensive: the annual subscription fee is €10 (with a guarantee of €150 required) and a 3-day ticket is €2. The first half hour is free, after which charges begin at €0.50.

Even so, Bloomberg seems optimistic about New York’s new scheme, describing it as an “affordable, entirely new, 24/7 transportation network that will help New Yorkers get where they’re going faster”.

Read: €500k grant will advance expansion of Dublin Bikes scheme

Read: Rollout of public bike scheme ‘needs private funding’

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