City Says Bike Share Program to Go On

BUT WITH MAIN SPONSOR CITI CUTTING JOBS, IS NYC BIKE SHARE SECURE?

The author testing out a Citibike last August, 2012 (c) Benepe

The city announced yesterday that it’s long promised bike share program will go on this spring, despite damage to its storage facility and many bicycles from Hurricane Sandy.

Bicycles and hardware at NYC Bike Share’s Brooklyn Navy yard were damaged by water, but some can be replaced or repaired in time for a May launch, said the city in a statement.

“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,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

As many as 5,500 bicycles and 300 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn are slated to be launched that month.

The news may be welcome by many bicycling aficionados who saw the program delayed in March then again in July 2012, when it was supposed to launch.

The revised timeline was agreed to by the city’s Department of Transportation and NYC Bike Share, and will not impact the $41 million in private fundingfrom Citi to underwrite the system, said a statement.

There was some speculation as well if the program could be in danger when the NYC Bike Share’s primary –and what looks like only–corporate sponsor Citi Group’s board summarily ejected its CEO Vikram Pandit in October, and replaced him with Mike Corbat, whose first order of business was to announce the cutting of 11,000 jobs.

DOT’s announcement subtly reminded that Citibank has a 6-year contract to provide for the bike share

One of the Citibikes previewed at an event last August sponsored by DOT, NYC BikeShare, and Transportation Alternatives

program. The profits from the system if any are to be shared between NYCBS and New York City.

Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge flooded NYCBS’s facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River, and where about two-thirds of the system’s equipment had been stored before the Oct. 29 storm.

While portions of the system’s equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, many parts of the system containing electrical components must have individual parts refurbished or replaced.

NYCBS is working to identify, repair and replace these damaged parts, aided through insurance and supplemented by equipment that wasn’t stored at the Navy Yard, as well as by additional equipment from its supplier and from elsewhere in the delivery pipeline.

The timeline will however affect the phasing for neighborhoods in the initial launch area, said the DOT.

“The 5,500 bikes will be located in the densest and most geographically contiguous parts of the service area in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in Brooklyn as work continues to extend to 7,000 bikes in the remaining parts of the Brooklyn service area and into Long Island City, Queens, by the end of 2013.”

Details on how the DOT and NYC Bike Share will launch the full fleet of 10,000 bikes, will be announced as the season begins.

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