WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE MARINO

In just a couple of months, New Yorkers will be noticing an addition to their street corners after every few blocks.

BikeShare is coming to New York City. This program will provide more options for New Yorkers to get around the city. According to the website, Bikeshare is a “network of thousands of bicycles available at self-service docking stations around the city.”

Popular in Europe and U.S cities such as Boston and Washington D.C, Alta Bike Share is starting up a program in one of the more recently heavy biking cities of the world, New York City. Alta is a private company, so BikeShare will be funded without the help of the city or on taxpayer’s dollars.

The pilot program will begin in Summer 2012 and has great prospects already. There will be over 600 bike stations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and will eventually be expanded to the other boroughs as well. There is likely to be one bike share station per every three blocks in order for it to be effective.

The initial installations will begin in locations where travel demand is the highest. This includes but is not limited to: Midtown Manhattan, DUMBO, Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Park Slope. This will be especially convenient for users who live in an area too far from or equidistant to the closest subway or bus stop.

On February 23, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) held a community board workshop in Founders Hall at St. Francis College to receive some input from the people who will actually be using it.

The organizers spread maps over several tables and divided the attendees into groups. The group leader first explained what exactly bike share was, and then continued to allow the attendees to pinpoint the places they would like to see a station.

Memberships will be divided into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily. A yearly pass will cost around $100, almost the same price as just a monthly Metrocard. If not abused, the bikes are meant to be used for trips between 30 and 45 minutes. A daily pass will be somewhere between $8-10.

For many users, the bicycles will be most useful for commuting to work, traveling in between other public transit options, and also for personal use. Bikeshare is a practical option for New Yorkers who do not have the room in their already-cramped apartment to fit a cumbersome bike. Foldable bikes are also expensive, costing anywhere between $150 to $300 so this program provides the same convenience of having your own wheels at a fraction of the cost.

It also minimizes the stress that comes with the possibility of theft and the cost of bike maintenance. If you are using BikeShare, you just hop on and hop off as you please, provided that it is at a BikeShare hub.

Members are also not liable for damages such as a flat tire or faulty brakes. The bikes are expected to be used an average of 5-10 times a day, so normal wear and tear is expected.

The bikes also have several safety features that may not be present in a personal bike. They are sturdy and adjustable, lending itself to the one-size-fits-all quality that the very tall and very short so require. They have lights that are always on to improve visibility, bells to alert pedestrians to “Get out of the way!” and GPS devices to plan ahead.

Since 2006, New York City has added over 250 miles of bike lanes, bringing the number up to 700 total miles citywide. The past 10 years has seen a 200-percent growth in cyclers, and a 75-percent decrease in cycling-related injuries.

Though helmet use is not regulated by law and it is impractical to implement any sort of helmet-share program, it is highly recommended. The DOT and Alta Bicycle Share will also try to work within the bicycle industry to provide discounted helmets for users.

Furthermore, BikeShare will also create more than 200 new jobs. This innovative program will not only save residents money but will also advance a struggling economy in a time where the latest unemployment rate in New York state is 8.2-percent, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BikeShare seems to be a fantastic success across the board. To request a location, either attend one of the community workshops or drop a pin on the web-site’s (nyc.gov/bikeshare) map to have your voice heard.

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