By now, you probably know about Citi Bike's woes in New York City: the damaged equipment, the broken seats, and—what else?—oh, right the money problems. But with a bailout reportedly imminent, and expansion likely next year, things are starting to looking up for the bike share system. And that's not all—the blue bikes aren't just expanding around New York, they're headed down to the palm tree-lined streets of Miami as well. No, it's not part of one giant, contiguous Citi Bike system, so you can stop planning that East Coast bike ride right now. Instead, as Miami's NewTimes reported, Miami Beach's bike-share system dubbed "DecoBike" is expanding into the city of Miami next month and will be rebranded as Citi Bike. The new Miami system will have 750 bikes and be run by DecoBike. [h/t Curbed Miami]
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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."
With a recent vote in the Philadelphia City Council, bikeshare moves closer to becoming a reality in the City of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee advanced a bill to bring bikeshare to the city by next spring. The bill is expected to be approved by the full city council on June 19. If that happens, the bikeshare system will launch with 600 bikes at 60 stations and, in the following two years, expand to include up to 2,000 bikes at 200 stations. According to the Inquirer, “the city will initially provide up to $3 million to Bicycle Transit Systems, the Philly-based company chosen to provide, operate and maintain the integrated bike-share system, he said. The funds will be used for delivery, planning and installation.” While Philadelphia is fairly late to the bikeshare game, the city will distinguish its system by allowing those without a debit or credit card to rent a bike. That part of the program is still in the works.
Friday the 13th just got a whole lot scarier. Tomorrow, on the tail of The World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon (NSFW Link), a similar clothing-optional bicycle boosting event is coming to Brooklyn. Topically dubbed Vision Zero Clothing (in what must be an honest homage to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan, which proposes to stop people from getting run over by cars), the event is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m. at Grand Ferry Park in Williamsburg (which, incidentally, is a favorite hangout of the Hasidic Jewish community). Exhibitionists, bicycle enthusiasts, transportation activists, and anybody else with a burning desire to feel the wind on their privates (not to mention a lack of fear of skinning not just their knees if they fall down) are invited to get together for some "consensual behavior" that at the same time involves subjecting innocent passersby to a whole lot more than they bargained for when they left the house (as with a nude beach it's sure to not just be bikini models and basketball players, but everybody). So, disrobe and mount up people! The revolution is here!
Divvy, Chicago’s bike share program, just sold the moving ad space of some 3,000 bicycles that have traveled 2.5 million miles since the system launched nine months ago. Illinois’ largest health insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, paid $12.5 million to sponsor Divvy and brand its blue bikes and vans with their corporate logo beginning in June. The Chicago Tribune reported that the highest bidder was Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which has also sponsored several other bikeshare systems in recent years, starting in Minneapolis. The health insurance company will pay $2.5 million each year through 2018—revenue the city will use to expand Divvy and fund bicycling projects throughout the city.
While Citi Bike is publicly bleeding money and senior staff, the program continues to be extremely popular on the streets of New York. The blue bikes have woven themselves into the city’s urban fabric like yellow cabs, or halal carts, or rats eating shwarma that fell off a halal cart. New data released by Citi Bike shows that the bikes aren't just being used by tourists pedaling from MoMA to the High Line—they are a viable transportation option for the city's commuters. Sarah Kaufman of NYU’s Rudin School of Transportation, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga from Columbia’s Spatial Information Design Lab, and designer Jeff Ferzoco took some of Citi Bike's data and translated it into a video to show general patterns of the program. The map represents about 75,000 rides taken over a two-day period in September. Their work, which shows purple dots zipping around Brooklyn and Manhattan, isn’t too surprising: ridership is up dramatically around rush hour and is most concentrated in the financial district and Midtown. Researchers at NYU also discovered that Citi Bike has become a viable transit alternative—especially when the MTA is experiencing delays. So, Citi Bike has become a valuable transit alternative. “For the month of September, there is evidence of ‘reactionary biking,’ in which subway riders encountering delays likely switched modes to bike share for that trip,” they explain. And as the map shows, most people using the system are yearly members. That's great for New Yorkers—a one year membership sets them back less than a month on the MTA—but it is killing Citi Bike's bottom line. The program needs to up the yearly membership fee or boost sales on daily passes if it wants to stay solvent and continue to expand. That's because, unlike other bike share programs, Citi Bike receives no public money; and New York City Mayor de Blasio says that’s not going to change. If only there was a bank—perhaps one whose name is plastered all over the bikes—that could just write another check. If only.
Citi Bike’s week of bad news just got worse. After reports that the program was short tens of millions of dollars, and plagued with technical and maintenance problems, Citi Bike's general manager, Justin Ginsburgh, has resigned. He is pedaling off to advise a construction firm. It’s not clear what’s next for the struggling, but popular program. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city will not bail out the program, but it may allow Citi Bike to raise membership fees.
Chicago’s Riverwalk extension is underway, and the city is looking for contractors to help plan and operate concessions along what promises to be a major downtown attraction. Applicants have until April 7 to reply to the city’s request for qualifications. The project got a major infusion of federal cash last year, but now Chicago is looking for private entities to help arrange for concessions—think bike rentals, kiosks, cafes, retail—along the riverside promenade, which will expand the Riverwalk six blocks. Federal transportation loans to be paid back over 35 years won’t be enough to fully finance the project, so the city is still considering sponsorship and advertising. Last year the city’s then-transportation chief Gabe Klein promised "Any additional advertising would be very tasteful and very limited.” Conceptual plans establish identities for each of the Riverwalk extension’s six blocks from State Street west to Lake Street: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin); and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). Chicago’s plan to reengage its “second shoreline” follows similar efforts that have had success in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London, among others.
A list of over 100 cities has been whittled down to six. PeopleForBikes has announced the latest cities that will be the focus of the 2014 iteration of the Green Lane Project, an initiative that promotes urban bike infrastructure. The decision means that beginning in April, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle will all be on the receiving end of expert assistance, training and support in efforts to become increasingly bike-friendly. The project's director Martha Roskowski said that all the selected cities demonstrated "ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities." Pittsburgh and Seattle's inclusion comes as each takes steps towards establishing bike share programs within their borders. Boston is already in possession of such a system. A major focus of the Green Lane initiative is to increase the number of protected bike lanes, and Seattle, Indianapolis, and Atlanta are already in possession of lanes included in PeopleForBikes' Best Of List for 2013. Since the program was launched in 2012, the number of such lanes within the US has nearly doubled, rising from 80 to 142. Half of this growth can be found in the Green Lane Project's six original focus cities: Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. [Via Streetsblog USA.]
“We got very attracted to the project, and to the idea of making something that reconnects Los Angeles,” Zoltan Pali said of Taylor Yard Bridge, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge designed by his firm, Studio Pali Fekete architects (SPF:a). Originally introduced as part of a mitigations package twenty-two years ago, the bridge, which will span the Los Angeles River between Cypress Park and Elysian Valley, should be completed within two years at a cost of $5.3 million. “Frankly bridges are a very interesting topic,” Pali said. “It’s also one of those types of things that you can design ten bridges in ten minutes, there’s so many different ways of looking at it.” In the case of the Taylor Yard Bridge, the designers faced a unique set of challenges. Large power lines on the Taylor Yard side of the 360-foot span limited the height of the bridge. Also on the Taylor Yard side is a maintenance road, hampering access to the riverbank; on the opposite side is a narrow bike path. Finally, the two banks are about ten feet apart in height, necessitating a 3 percent grade. “[We] had a lot of issues we had to deal with from the standpoint of geometry,” Pali said. To deal with those concerns, and to minimize construction time, Pali and his colleagues chose a lightweight steel construction that eliminated the need for supports in the river bed. The body of the bridge is a 30-foot-by-30-foot box truss, painted orange. A DWP recycled water pipeline, painted purple, will provide a contrasting splash of color. The 17-foot-wide road platform, designed with lanes for pedestrian and bicycle use, “kind of floats, almost seems as if it’s suspended” within the truss, Pali said. The Taylor Yard Bridge is more than just a solution to a set of practical problems. It’s also Pali’s way of pushing back against over-the-top bridge designs. “Truth be told, we really wanted to have a counterpoint philosophically and architecturally from the sort of heroics that lots of folks go through to make bridges,” he explained. The designers aimed for “simplicity, elegance. We wanted to refer to those really beautiful, utilitarian bridges you see around the world, plus the railroad bridges that used to span the LA River. Just do what you need.”
Foster + Partners have collaborated with London landscape architecture firm Exterior Architecture and urban planners Space Syntax in developing a proposal for an extensive system of elevated-bike paths in London. The project entails the construction of over 130 miles of pathways along routes that parallel those of an existing system of rail lines that already weaves in and around the city. Suspended above the train tracks, cyclists would access SkyCycle through the over 200 hydraulic platforms and ramps that would act as entry points. While somewhat evocative of New York's own High Line, the precedent for the project actually goes back much further. As illustrated in the accompanying promotional video, the project would essentially segregate cyclists from their fellow residents navigating London in cars or by foot. The move comes on the heels of a spate of cycling-related deaths that plagued the city last year. Foster himself is an avid cyclist and the current president of Britain's National Byway Trust. London bikers will have to bide their time before taking to the air, however. If the proposal is to be realized, there are many hoops to jump through, including fundraising. SkyCycle would likely be completed sometime after 2030. While the use of the rail corridors has been framed as a cost-saving measure, estimates for an upcoming 4 mile trial route place costs at £220 million.
Cleveland’s conflicting development pressures came to a head last week over one avenue on the city’s West Side, and whether its future holds car-oriented businesses like McDonald’s or lanes for public transit and bike paths. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt reported on developers’ plans to suburbanize the area around Lorain Avenue at Fulton Road: “Residents hate the idea with a passion,” he wrote. Much of Cleveland was designed when its population was far greater than it is today. Though on the rebound, the city has far different needs than it did in decades prior. That’s the thinking behind the Ohio City Inc. community development corporation’s new plan, which calls for a $17.3 million overhaul of the avenue from West 25th to West 85th streets. The route would include a 2.3-mile, bicycle track along the north side of the street—the city’s first separated, two-way paths for bikes. Proponents of the plan and those who’d prefer automobile-oriented development could have it out at an upcoming community meeting in January in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood (time and place to be announced). The City Planning Commission could pick it up from there. Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, and recently reexamined transportation policies to build on the increasingly urban character of this self-described artisan neighborhood.