Start Up Delayed Until March 2014 – No Reason for Delay Given
New York City launched a bike-share program last Monday, May 27. The program, dubbed Citi Bike in a nod to corporate sponsor Citibank, had been the subject of much conversation and excitement (both positive and negative) in the months leading up to launch.
An annual membership for the program is $95 (26 cents a day) and any ride shorter than 45 minutes is free with membership purchase. Rides longer than 45 minutes but shorter than 75 minutes cost an additional $2.50 and each additional 30 minutes after 75 minutes costs $9. There are also shorter duration memberships available for occasional users or visitors – a 24-hour pass costs $9.95 and a 7-day pass is $25. I can’t wait to try out the program during my next trip to New York City.
The New York bike-share is the largest such system in the U.S. There are 600 locations where users can pick up and drop off bicycles. These stations play host to the 6,000 bicycles in the system at program launch. Users ‘check out’ a bicycle at a station and can return it to any station in the system. The duration between check out and return is the time a user is charged for.
Citi Bike joins other famed transportation options in New York like the ubiquitous yellow cabs, the Staten Island Ferry, and the extensive subway system. Time will tell if the Citi Bike program leads to replications by other cities in the U.S. As with many new ideas and trends, New York City is the ultimate testing ground. For bike-sharing in the U.S. I hope that Jay-Z’s take on the Frank Sinatra classic New York, New York holds true:
Yeah, they love me everywhere
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country San Diego awaits the arrival of a bike-share program. Announced in November 2012, the initial projection called for 1,800 bicycles in 180 stations.
The program was expected to launch in 2013 but little has been heard since the official announcement of the program, which also identified DecoBike as the company the city would use for the program. DecoBike currently operates the bike-share program for Miami Beach, Florida among a few other locations primarily in Florida. Per an email from DecoBike received this week the San Diego bike-share program launch has been moved from 2013 to a tentative date of March 2014. No reason for the delay was given in the communication received.
The Miami Beach program features an annual membership for $150 or a monthly membership for $15. These membership options include all rides of 30 minutes or less. A deluxe monthly membership is $25 and includes rides of up to one hour. The Miami Beach program has 1,000 bicycles and 100 stations. It is worth noting that in comparison to the New York program Miami Beach has higher rates as well as fewer bicycles and stations. Miami Beach does not have the population density of New York but the pricing may be an indicator of where rates in San Diego will be set.
So as planning and community input sessions progress with the North Park – Mid City bicycle plan and similar Uptown bicycle plan, far and away the most resources and funding for transportation in San Diego continue to be poured into massive expansions of already massive freeways including the State Route 94 expansion ($500 – 600 million) and the Interstate 5 expansion ($3.3 billion).
In the meantime, SANDAG has even managed to find a spare $341.5 million to buy a little used freeway in the South Bay. Is it any surprise that San Diego annually earns an ‘F’ in air quality from the American Lung Association?
Why does bicycling continue to play
second third fourth tenth fiddle in funding of transportation options?
Perhaps it’s because there are many in the San Diego community with views of bicycling like Dorothy Rabinowitz (Wall Street Journal editorial board member) despite the benefits wide-use cycling can bring to a city. Benefits like reduced vehicle congestion, a healthier populace, reduced air pollution emissions, and many other physical, environmental, and economic benefits. [If you haven’t already seen the video of Ms. Rabinowitz, it is 5 minutes well worth your time.]
In San Diego we’ll have to wait until 2014 (or later) to see the popularity and impact of a bike-share program here.