Earlier this spring, I wrote that 2013 is the Year of the Bike-Share, and on Monday, New York City proved it. That morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan launched Citi Bike, the nation's largest bike share system.
With 6,000 bright blue bikes available to more than 16,000 members at more than 300 stations --including the solar-powered City Hall station where the launch ceremony took place-- this is a terrific next step for a city that has already embraced bicycling as a mode of transportation that residents want.
As the Mayor said, "The Citi Bike program is a big win for New York. It's going to give New Yorkers another way to get around town by extending connectivity from subway and bus stops. It's also going to be great for our millions of visitors."
Observers have already noted the wave of blue seen around New York. In fact, the Citi Bike blog reports that more than 6,000 trips were taken by late afternoon on the system's opening day.
Photo courtesy Michael Appleton, New York Times
We know that bike-sharing is wildly popular in cities across the nation and around the world. But New York's system is poised for even greater success because the City has been preparing its streets for bicycles well in advance. “We didn’t just drop this bike share system in overnight,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “We spent five years installing more than 350 miles of bike lanes.”
That preparation will go a long way to making city streets safer and friendlier for all cyclists, particularly those who are unaccustomed to urban bicycling.
“It’s very important for everyone who uses Citi Bike to follow the rules of the road and to be cautious, especially if you’re not accustomed to riding a bike in the city. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to be careful, especially because it will take some time for drivers and walkers to get accustomed to seeing thousands more bikes on the streets.”
I'm happy for the City, not only because Citi Bike has opened and is on its way to shattering national bike-sharing records. I'm also happy because the City's forward-thinking transportation leaders have continued to insist on safety as a key component of their efforts to adapt New York's streets to the multi-modal use residents want.
Congratulations to the City of New York, to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sadik-Khan, and to the 16,000 pioneering members of Citi Bike. Be safe out there.