Editorial: Bike share a welcome cycle in NYC mobility
The city's bike-share program is launching this month with 6,000 three-gear bicycles stationed at 330 sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn, a welcome amenity in the heart of America's most densely packed population center.
The bikes won't burn fossil fuel. They're a stunning way to enjoy New York's splendid waterfronts and parks. They don't clog traffic. They get you where you want to go on 700 miles of bike lanes within the five boroughs. And you don't have to descend into that dingy, sulfurous perdition known as the New York City subway system.
So naturally . . . more than a few New Yorkers are in a vein-busting uproar over the program, or more precisely, over the racks: They'll take up sidewalk space. They'll take out street parking. They're gray, ungainly and clunky. They'll block ambulances and fire trucks near residential buildings. In neighborhoods including Greenwich Village and Battery Park City, the furor has just begun.
There are two ways of reasonably reacting.
The first is to graciously congratulate New Yorkers for being so intensely invested in their streets, in the built and natural environments around them, and in preserving the ambience of their neighborhoods. No urban noir, no glazed-eyed anomie here.
The second reaction is to call the police. No, no, no! Just kidding. But New Yorkers seem to favor bike lanes these days -- a poll last summer found that 66 percent are in favor. And a growing number may be expanding their transportation options to include bikes.
Privately sponsored by Citibank and MasterCard, the Citi Bike program requires participants to pony up $95 for an annual membership fee, or use a credit card to unlock a bike. City transportation officials ultimately want to expand the program to include 10,000 bicycles at 600 docking stations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
It's a promising plan. Life in the city is about trade-offs and real estate. The loss of a little sidewalk footage or a few parking spaces to accommodate a bicycle rack sounds ultimately like a smart investment. Rack and ruin this isn't.