St. Louis could become the latest city to join the wave of bike sharing programs already prevalent in cities from Washington, D.C. to Portland, Oregon. Great Rivers Greenway—a special taxing district created in 2000, when St. Louisans devoted a tenth-of-a-cent sales tax premium to for the creation of trails and parks—issued a request for qualifications in December. Now a feasibility study from bike sharing firm Alta Planning + Design says the city's ready for a two-year roll out of 60 stations with 540 bikes, with 30 additional stations and 250 bikes to follow. Details are still up to local stakeholders, but but NextSTL's Alex Ihnen called the system's implementation “imminent,” adding “There’s zero reason a St. Louis bike share system won’t be successful.” Alta operates or has consulted for 10 bike sharing programs across the country, including New York City's Citibike, D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare and Chicago's Divvy. (View a list of suggested station locations here, compiled to balance community input with equal access to stations among low-income communities and neighborhoods of color.) As with those systems, stakeholders in St. Louis will have to establish an ownership structure (likely nonprofit) and raise money before any pedals start turning. Foundations, public financing, and private sponsorships are all options for the $2.7 million to $4.2 million needed for launch and capital costs. That likely means an operational system is a few years away. But supporters are not deterred. “The time is right to explore a bike share program in St. Louis,” said Elizabeth Simons, assistant project manager at Great Rivers Greenway. “Based on the rise of commuter cycling in St. Louis—along with the feedback we are receiving from the community—there appears to be a pent-up demand for a bike share system.” According to Great Rivers Greenway's study, phase one would be a strip of development running west from Downtown St. Louis to Washington University, followed by future stations in neighborhoods to the north, south and west. The study reports more than 60 percent of St. Louis residents said they were either likely or very likely to use a bike share.
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It's happening. After years of talks and reports, it's actually, finally, in-paper, happening—Citi Bike is expanding. Tuesday, at the Queensbridge Houses in Queens, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the system of 6,000 bikes will double by the end of 2017—putting 2,000 more bikes on the streets than initially envisioned when the program was launched. The news comes as Bikeshare Holdings, a private investment company headed by the CEOs of Equinox and Related Companies, acquires Alta Bicycle Share, which oversees Citi Bike, and other bikeshare programs around the world. As the Daily News first reported, former MTA Chairman Jay Walder will serve as Alta's new CEO. Starting next year, a new fleet of blue bikes will arrive in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and in Long Island City, Queens. As Citi Bike noted on its blog, all of these stations were intended to be part of the program's "initial deployment." Based on a map provided by Citi Bike, the second phase of expansion will include Upper Manhattan, Astoria, Queens, and more Brooklyn neighborhoods. But the system won't just be expanded, it will be entirely overhauled. Anyone who has been on a Citi Bike recently knows why—seats are torn, bikes are broken, docks are out-of-service, and the credit card system is glitchy. To pay for all of this, and to keep the program solvent moving forward, Citi Bike will raise the annual membership fee from $95 a year to $149. The $60 annual membership New York City Housing residents will not change. According to the NYC DOT, Bikeshare Holdings has invested $30 million into the program, the Partnership Fund for New York City pledged $5 million, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group is lending $15 million for a credit increase, and Citigroup has increased its sponsorship commitment by $70.5 million and has extended it through 2024. (Citi initially paid $41 million for a five-year sponsorship contract). “We believe in Citi Bike’s potential as a fixture of New York City’s public transit system," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "It can make our neighborhoods more accessible, help us achieve our sustainability goals, and bridge inequities in our transportation network. To achieve all that, bike share has to be reliable and responsive to community’s needs. Today, after tremendous efforts across our administration, we can say we have the management and the support in place to fulfill that mission."
New York City's bike share system, Citi Bike has had a rough first year. The bikes are in bad shape, the docking technology is glitchy, and the system has been plagued with financial troubles for months. To make matters worse for the beleaguered program, New York City is asking Alta Bikeshare—the company which oversees Citi Bike—to cough up $1 million to cover lost parking revenue from the parking spaces the bike stations occupy. According to the Wall Street Journal, a provision in Alta’s contract states that the company must reimburse the city for revenue lost from turning parking spaces into bike docking stations. That provision was part of Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to make the program entirely free of tax payer dollars—a commitment that Mayor de Blasio plans to keep. But because of ongoing negotiations between Alta and REQX Ventures—an investment firm that could provide Citi Bike with much-needed capital—this $1 million check may never be written or cashed. The two entities are reportedly trying to remove this parking provision from a revised contract. The Journal reported, "cutting Alta a break on lost parking revenue could be construed as an effective public subsidy, and could raise political and philosophical questions about whether taxpayers should support New York City's bike-share.” As with all Citi Bike news, though, what happens next is anyone's guess.
It's finally here! Well, in a few more excruciating days, New Yorkers will be able to hop on a bright blue City Bike and cruise through the city (or at least those 12,000 or so founding members, the rest of us will have to wait one more week). While some locals haven't taken to the alien bike docking stations popping up on city streets quite yet, it appears that the vast majority of the city is ready to roll. With the docking stations in place, crews are now distributing bikes. According to a tweet from the NYC DOT this afternoon, some 850 bikes have already been docked around the city, and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and a few of the bike share team took the opportunity to pose on some of the bikes today. The official opening day is May 27.
With summer just around the corner, bicyclists are getting excited to try out the new bike-share systems being installed in many cities across the nation. After initial delays, New York City's bike-share program is set to open by the end of the month, and San Francisco, Seattle, and Hoboken have similar plans of their own on the horizon. San Francisco: SPUR reports that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District signed a contract with Alta Bike Share to spin the wheels on a bike-sharing program for San Francisco. Alta Bike Share runs similar bike programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston and will be the operator of new programs in New York and Chicago this year. San Francisco plans a two-year pilot program consisting of 700 bikes in 70 locations that will launch this summer throughout the San Jose to San Francisco region. Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020 and now, after several delays, the plan will be the first regional program in the country. Seattle: Considering Seattle’s distinctive challenges of hills and mandatory helmets, Alta Bicycle Share has devised a plan for the city’s bike-share program that includes seven-speed bikes rather than the standard three-speed ones, reported BikePortland. The Portland-based Alta, adding to their bike share empire across the country, will also employ an integrated helmet vending system to accommodate the city’s mandatory helmet law. The city’s bike-share program will consist of 500 bikes distributed throughout 50 stations. The program will launch by the start of 2014 and continue to develop throughout the Puget Sound region. Hoboken: The City of Hoboken, in partner with E3Think, Bike And Roll, and Social Bicycles, across the Hudson from Manhattan, is also getting into the bike share game with a system radically different from most other cities: the “hybrid” bike-share plan. The six-month pilot program employs traditional bike rentals, but users reserve bikes online and, unlike the majority of existing bike-share systems that depend on “Smart-Dock” bike racks for storage, Hoboken's program utilizes a “Smart-Lock” method. The city hopes this approach will be more affordable and permit further development of the system. Bicycle repair stations, more bike lanes, and additional bike racks have bolstered the city’s campaign to become more bike-friendly.
Chicago’s bike share program will kick off in June when the city debuts hundreds of light blue, three-speed bicycles that can be rented for an hourly fee or with a yearly $75 membership. Managed by Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike share, Chicago’s program goes by the name “Divvy.” Alta was supposed to launch the $22 million program last summer, and has since become the subject of controversy. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein was formerly a consultant for the company, and competitors have alleged foul play, which Alta and the city have flatly denied. The first of Divvy’s 75 solar-powered docking stations will be downtown and in River North. Within a year the city’s plan is to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 bicycles across the city.
Pittsburgh is the latest in a long line of cities preparing to launch a bike share system. According to the Bike PGH blog, Mayor Ravenstahl announced the 500-bike, 50-station program earlier this month. Similar to systems in other cities, bikes will be available for short-term rides for a small fee. Portland, OR-based Alta Planning and Design will partner with the city to launch the system, the same company involved with New York, Washington DC, and other major bike share systems. More information will be available at two community meetings scheduled for April 2nd and 3rd. The city hopes to roll out the new bikes in 2014.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this morning on his morning radio show that New York City's forthcoming CitiBike bike-share program—already mired with delays caused by software problems—would be further delayed until at least next spring, confirming rumors that the system's bugs weren't being worked out quickly enough. On his radio show, the mayor delivered the bad news, "The software doesn't work, duh." He maintained that, "we are not going to put out the system until it works." The highly anticipated program is set to become the largest is North America when it opens and was a signature piece of the mayor's bike infrastructure plan for the city. Software problems have been a reoccurring problem for recent systems operated by Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share. Earlier this month, officials announced that Chicago's bike share system, expected to be second only to New York's in North America, was delayed until 2013 and a recently-launched 300-bike system in Chattanooga, TN has also been experiencing computer glitches. New York's system was originally to be rolled out in July, but, for now, the bike-share stations remain in storage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where they were assembled. Following the mayor's comments, the NYC Department of Transportation released a timeline outlining the updated schedule for the system, calling for 7,000 of the 10,000 bikes and 420 stations to hit selected streets in Manhattan and western Brooklyn by March of 2013.
If everything had gone according to plan, New York's highly anticipated bike-sharing system called Citi Bike would be in full swing. Unfortunately, earlier this month the city announced that a computer software glitch had pushed the opening back until August. While we can handle waiting one more month, rumors that the planned 10,000 bright blue Citi Bikes might not hit the street until next year had us alarmed. An unnamed source told the New York Post—never a cheerleader of the system—today that bike-share operator Alta might need more time to fix the problems and has asked for millions in funding ahead of schedule. The source said that if the system isn't in place by October, it could end up in storage until spring 2013. NYC Department of Transportation spokesperson Seth Solomonow denied the rumors, telling the Post, "That is inaccurate...We are working on a plan to launch the system." StreetsBlog pointed out Tuesday that Chattanooga, TN went live with their 300-bike system after a short delay using the same bikes and kiosks as New York, hopefully portending the software problems can be worked out soon. Meanwhile, bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives is planning a bike-share celebration in late August, and tickets are still available. Also check out CiBi.Me, a bike-share trip planner indicating bike lanes and stations across the city that will have you prepared once Citi Bikes are finally launched across New York.
Bike On, NYC. This afternoon the mayor's office announced that the company Alta would run the city's new bike sharing program, which is set to begin next summer. In Manhattan south of 79th Street and in select neighborhoods in Brooklyn, 10,000 bicycles will be available for pick up at 600 stations. More details at The New York Times. Back to the future? Ford Motor Company has somehow navigated its way through the Great Recession by focusing on its core values and eliminating the fat. This gaunt American icon is now beefing up and hedging its bets on design of the new, "Evos" in an attempt to blow the DeLorean-esque doors off its profit margins. More at Motortrend. Bangkok Underwater. Thailand's capital city is slowly sinking, and may even be submerged as soon as 2030, unless drastic planning measures are taken, reports The Guardian.