A bike-share program is on the horizon for Philadelphia. In the last few months, the city has taken a number of steps to move the initiative forward. After setting aside $3 million in funding for the program, a selection committee—made up of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council—released a Request For a Proposals (RFP) for a strategic business plan, consulting, and cost estimate services. Now, a winner has been announced. The selection committee received a total of six submissions from urban planning firms across the country, later inviting three finalists to come in for an interview, including Bike Nation, Nelson Nygaard and E3 Think, and the Toole Design Group. And, the Toole Design Group has just been named the winner of the RFP. Spencer Finch, Director of Sustainable Infrastructure at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, said the Washington DC-based Toole Design Group submitted the winning proposal because they “brought the experience” and the “financial analysis to do to the work.” RJ Eldridge, Director of Planning at Toole, will lead this project and collaborate with Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning, a regional transportation planning firm in Rockville, MD. The Toole Design Group appears to be a logical choice. The firm just completed a manual, “Bike Sharing in The United States: State of the Practice and Guide to Implementation,” for the Federal Highway Administration on all existing bike-sharing programs across the country. The business plan will explore different options for financing the program from purely private or purely public funding to a “hybrid model” of state and federal funding, along with non-profit and private sponsorship. The selection committee plans to make a formal announcement later this week and expects the business plan to be completed by this May. The program is scheduled to launch by 2014, and make over 1,000 bikes available at about 100 stations across the city by the following year.
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An ambitious plan to build a $50 million velodrome in Brooklyn Bridge Park has been scrapped due to budget problems. Philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz had committed funds for the project to be built inside the footprint of an old one-story industrial building sitting within the park boundaries but, despite scaling the project back, site requirements like an aesthetic roof and the risk of flooding at its waterfront site made the proposed building too expensive. Original plans called for a 650-foot-long inclined bike-racing track with nearly 2,500 fixed seats inside a 115,000-square-foot LEED certified structure, which could could be reconfigured to also accommodate basketball, tennis, volleyball, and gymnastics. The roof, visible from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade atop the BQE expressway, was to be a focal point of the building's design. Thomas Phifer and Partners had been tapped to design the velodrome but no design has been released. Greg Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit NYC Fieldhouse overseeing the project told the New York Times that the project will move forward at another site. “We’re very excited and eager to find a new home for this recreation center and velodrome. The funding remains intact,” he explained to the Times. Other previously-considered sites in New York and New Jersey will be looked at again. Brooks told the Times that the group reduced the size of the project to 95,000 square feet and only 500 seats, and elevated the building two feet to avoid flooding, but in the end the numbers wouldn't work. Some in the surrounding Brooklyn Heights neighborhood had opposed the project citing concerns over parking and the size of the new building. Park officials said they will return to their original plans to use the building as a maintenance warehouse.
Alex Moulton, 92, died on December 9th at his home in Bath, England. His New York Times obituary on December 20th didn't mention that he designed an object loved by the entire architecture profession. Moulton an automotive engineer and entrepreneur designed, built, and manufactured the Moulton foldable, collapsable mini bicycle. The bicycle was made famous-at least to architect's by Reyner Banham who commuted daily on his Moulton F-frame and famously used a photographed on his mini for his books dust jacket. The prototype for Moulton was designed and built in 1959 and according to the Times, "immediately took hold in 1960s Britain, where, because of the their quirkiness and convenience," they became seen as a fashionable minibike, as the Moulton company says on its website "to go with mini skirts and mini cars." Just the thing for an architecture historian to fold up in their Bedford square office. The bicycle, the Times wrote, "was known was for its small 16 inch wheels, high pressure tires, front and rear rubber suspension system and a step through frame. But Banham who wrote a 1960 article on the bicycle "A Grid on Two Farthings" more brilliantly described its compelling design arguing against the notion “that the centuries have given a final shape, perfect beyond improvement, to certain basic tools such as the hammer and the oar, that generations of trial and error have produced working forms almost indistinguishable from platonic absolutes” including the diamond frame bicycle which had presumably “already achieved its ultimate norm or form around 1900.” Since the Moulton, Banham writes, “bicycle thinking can never be the same again, and there can be no more nonsense about permanent and definitive forms, for even the Moulton is capable of improvement.”
New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) confirmed today what many had feared: flooding damage from Hurricane Sandy has indeed delayed New York's beleaguered Citi Bike bike share system. As AN noted last month, electrical components of the Citibike docking stations were damaged while in storage in the Brooklyn Navy Yard along the East River. The initial rollout, now scheduled for May 2013, will include at least 5,500 bikes and 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, later expanding to 7,000 bikes by the end of 2013. The final goal is to have 10,000 bikes and 600 stations across the city. The bike share system was originally set to launch in July 2012, later pushed to August 2012, and then to March 2013 as vendor Alta Bike Share sorts out computer software problems. Hurricane Sandy pushed that launch date back again to May 2013. According to a statement put out by NYC DOT, the $41 million in private money secured to fund the bike share system has not been impacted by the delays. About two thirds of the bike share system had been in storage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, some of which will require new electrical components and refurbishing. “DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.” Many other cities across the country are also in the process of launching ambitious bike share systems of their own, including Los Angeles with 4,000 bikes, Chicago with 3,000 bikes, San Francisco with 500 bikes, and Columbus with 300 bikes. Bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives is keeping a positive outlook. "New Yorkers are eager for this new transportation choice but we all know the damage Hurricane Sandy wrought on our city," TA Executive Director Paul Steely White said in a statement. "We're thankful the storm spared so much of the equipment and grateful to see the program will still launch in the spring." Meanwhile, be sure to check out OpenPlans' amazing CiBi.Me bike share trip planner where you can check out all the planned bike stations and plan your most efficient trip across the city by Citi Bike.
After the sad news back in August that New York City's already-delayed bike share system—Citibike—would be delayed until the spring of 2013, we'd almost forgotten about the thousands of bright blue bikes that have been in storage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard while computer glitches are worked out. The apparently-cursed bike share system is back in the news, however, as the New York Times reports that some of the equipment was damaged during Hurricane Sandy when the East River inundated waterfront Brooklyn. Floodwaters up to six feet deep apparently damaged program equipment including the docking stations, but the NYC Department of Transportation would not comment on the extent of the damage or whether it would cause further delays in launching the system. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told the Times, "We're working on it." Some believe the electronic design of the docking stations could make them especially vulnerable to flooding.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has proven to be a controversial public figure, whether it's unsafe reading while driving, or now, removing Toronto's recently installed bike lanes on Jarvis Street. Yesterday, city crews showed up in large scrubbing trucks to scrape away thin dividing lines from the street, only to encounter a small collection of riders who would not stand by idly. Instead the cyclists chose to lie down, sit, and ultimately blockade the street scrubbing vehicles, eventually forcing them to leave for the day. A subtle part of the infrastructure that regulates a city’s traffic, bike lanes on Jarvis Street in Toronto have been voted out by City Council to make room for a reversible fifth lane meant to improve traffic flow for automobiles. The lanes were part of street safety measures enacted by Ford's predecessor David Miller. Cyclists have been unhappy with the decision declaring that removing the lanes puts their safety at risk. A few have chosen to make their thoughts known—including freelance writer Steve Fisher who noted that, prior to the lanes, he was hit twice by passing cars. The small group of protesters sat in the bike lanes as scrubbing machines approached and attempted to go around them, but a game of leap-frog commenced as protesters again moved themselves down the road ahead of the machines. Removal of the lanes continued again today and currently the dispute remains unresolved. Unable to work at night—due to noise restrictions—the scrubbing crews must complete the removal during the day. Police were on site today in an attempt to usher back protesters and allow the work to continue. One man was reportedly arrested and taken into custody this afternoon as the protest continues. The scene has been carefully observed from coast to coast in the United States as bike advocates worry of potential bike backlashes in local politics. New York has already gone through a lengthy fight over bike lanes installed by Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan along Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and many observers are closely watching political views as the city prepares to elect a new mayor next year.
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.
There are many reasons to love Summer Streets in New York—or open streets programs in most cities across the country—but one of the best is the opportunity to stand in the middle of Park Avenue, Fourth Avenue, or Lafayette Street gawking up at the city's architecture without becoming roadkill. Walking Off the Big Apple presents a list of notable buildings along the route in easy to use Google map form. Summer Streets is back again tomorrow and the following Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so look for Mies' Seagram Building, Stanford White's 23 Park, or, of course, Grand Central Terminal. Also be on the lookout for this crazy bike-powered musical instrument called the Cyclo-Phone (above) by Marcelo Ertorteguy and Sara Valente. Curbed New York spotted the crazy contraption made of kiddie pools and PVC pipes at Astor Place.
In a city where bicyclists may share a lane with Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, last year’s promise by Mayor Rahm Emanuel of 100 miles of protected bike paths was cause for celebration. Chicago's latest project, announced Sunday, will be a protected lane along Dearborn Street in the Loop that will run in both directions from Polk to Kinzie. The new route connects the near north side with the south loop and is designed to appeal to young, tech-savvy commuters who work downtown. “It will help us recruit the type of people that have been leaving for the coast,” Emanuel said. “They will now come to the city of Chicago.” The Active Transportation Alliance circulated a petition to hold the Mayor’s administration to its word. Others, like the Sun-Times’ Mark Konkol, have called protected lanes a waste of money and decried a faulty “cyclist culture” that makes streets more dangerous for pedestrians and bikers alike. Chicago will add 22 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of the year, bringing the city's total to 33 miles.
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.
We've been anxiously waiting for the city to drop off the planned 10,000 Citi Bikes—after all, there will be 82 bikes parked just outside AN's HQ in Lower Manhattan!—as part of NYC's bike share system originally slated to open this month. Our dreams of riding with the wind in our hair were crushed, or at least postponed, when system operator Alta began surreptitiously tweeting news of the delay: “Look for the launch in August.” When the bike share system is complete, 10,000 bright-blue bicycles will be scattered throughout three boroughs, docked at 600 stations located in Manhattan, Long Island City, and a healthy chunk of Brooklyn from Downtown Brooklyn to Bed-Stuy and north through Greenpoint. The bikes and stations are being assembled at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and with 20,000 tires to inflate, we're willing to give them a little slack. In the meantime, check here for public demonstrations being staged around the city, where you might just land yourself a free helmet.
Beginning this July, thousands of bright-blue Citibikes will begin swarming the streets of Manhattan and eventually Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan made the formal announcement today that Citibank has signed on as the official sponsor for the city's new bike share system. Ten thousand Citibikes located across 600 stations will be deployed across the city over the following year, making the system the largest in the United States. Citibank has committed $41 million over the next five years to jumpstart the program, with MasterCard chipping in another $6.5 million, meaning no public money will be required to launch the system. "We're getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money," Bloomberg said. "Who thought that could be done?" An annual pass for the system will cost $95.00, with weekly passes at $25.00 and daily passes $9.95. A map of official station locations will be released soon and additional information can be found on the Citibike web site.