The latest piece in the ongoing saga of Citi Bike actually contains some good news. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Related Companies, through its affiliate, REQX Ventures, is close to finishing a deal that would inject millions of dollars into the struggling, but popular, bike share system. The influx of cash would allow Citi Bike to expand into Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. It would also almost double the program's current number of bikes to 12,000. The program originally promised to deliver 10,000 bikes at its launch under the Bloomberg administration so there will be an extra 2,000 bikes crisscrossing the city. This, of course, comes with a cost. The Journal reported that Alta Bicycle Share—the company that operates Citi Bike—could raise the yearly membership price from $95 per year to $140 each year. A subsequent New York Times piece said membership could actually increase to $155 per year. According to the Times, the expansion could begin next year with an expected completion in 2017. "The arrangement would wrest control from Alta, the company, based in Portland, Ore., that has partnered with the city to date, and give it to REQX, a venture formed by some principals of the real estate firm Related and the fitness chain Equinox," the Times reported. "REQX would also assume a majority stake in Alta’s other systems, in cities like Boston, Washington and Melbourne, Australia. The agreement could be announced as early as this week, though officials cautioned that a deal had not been completed."
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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.
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.