New Yorkers now see why bikeshare is great
Our region's bicycle sharing system is no longer the largest in the nation. That's because this weekend, New York launched its system, Citibike.
Citibike has 6,000 bikes on 330 stations, and will grow to 10,000 bikes in the second phase. Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson made a video of the launch:
Greater Greater Washington contributor alum Stephen Miller spoke to some riders who had discovered their keys working even before the launch.
The last few weeks have seen a constant stream of articles in the press with people complaining about the new stations. That's common, and we saw the same here; when the stations went in but had no bikes, people could see some small impact from the stations, but no benefits.
Matt Yglesias explained that bikeshare will actually be very good for New York, and may even be better suited than in other cities, since New York is so dense.
Here, complaints quickly evaporated as soon as the system went live. That may already be happening in New York, or at least, the tenor of this weekend's coverage was very different than before.
The New York Post, New York's analogue of our Examiner and a devoted foe of bikeshare from the moment it was announced, found all of the negative news it could: some thieves actually stole one bike off a truck before it could be installed at a station, and a few riders didn't get their keys in the mail in time.
New York features a few innovations
Paul DeMaio points out a few small yet potentially significant variations on bike docking stations that Public Bike System Company, which makes the equipment, designed for New York. New solar poles can collect ambient light, so that stations don't have to be in direct sunlight. The docks have a credit card-sized slot that could allow a future card that combines a bikeshare key and subway fare.
New York's stations also allow cables to bridge over gaps. Some of the station's docks can be on the far side of a a manhole cover or other obstruction. Or, where a station is very long, a section of the station can have a gap without docks, so that people can walk through or carry goods across.
Don't forget Chicago
In other bikeshare news, Dan Malouff writes that Chicago is making progress as well. They picked a name for the system, Divvy. Memberships will start going on sale this week for a planned June launch of 75 stations. Dan writes, "By this time next year, DC-vet Gabe Klein is hoping to have 400 Chicago stations online."
Chicago's DOT is working out final station locations. Once they go in, expect a similar wave of negative stories, then positive reactions once the system actually goes live.
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