It’s been announced today that the Alta Bicycle Company will be operating the huge New York City bike-share that will be likely launching next summer. An informative press release reveals the area of the scheme, which will be slightly larger than London’s existing area, but with roughly twice as many bikes in the system and 50% more docking stations, it will have a slightly higher density of available bikes and stations than here in London. The bike and dock design is likely to be very similar to London’s so will be very familiar to anyone visiting from across the pond – it’s also the same system used in Montreal, Washington DC/Arlington, Minneapolis, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Melbourne.
Interestingly the system will be financed entirely privately. I’m sure this will be an immense challenge, as London’s capital and operating costs are high. However London has demonstrated that advertising can be a very good deal for the advertiser concerned if the scheme is a success. (London’s planning overhead and so capital expense is also almost certainly higher than New York’s.) The scheme will run 24/365. NYC gets some pretty intense snowstorms in the winter, but so does Washington DC’s scheme, which also runs throughout the year – with occasional suspensions when it gets really bad.
NY will doubtless be looking to London closely, as it probably is the scheme most similar to New York’s – the same technology, roughly the same size and area (all of the US and Canada’s schemes are much smaller) and London’s topography is also quite similar – a major river bisecting the scheme, a single major business district (although London will cover two with next year’s extension to Canary Wharf) with a separate commercial centre, and a very large public park. Doubtless NY will see huge popularity for the bikes in Central Park on weekends, as London does in Hyde Park, and a big morning “commuter surge” from Brooklyn into Lower Manhattan, just like London’s from the Waterloo area to the City.
Interestingly the proposed area extends deep into Brooklyn, but on Manhattan Island it extends only up to 79th Street – roughly a third of the way up Central Park. I would be surprised if, on scheme launch, there aren’t some docking stations in Central Park that don’t in fact go north of this line. New York’s density and road layout structure means there are ample opportunities for the scheme to grow in the future, too.
Two websites have also gone live – Alta’s NYC Bikeshare has some nice mock-up pictures of the bikes (from which I’ve stolen the above pic) + an NYC Dept of Transportation website allows you to pick where you would like to suggest a docking station.
Very pleased to see a link to my bike map from the Alta site. With both big operators in North America (B-Cycle and Alta) being tacitly supportive of third-party maps such as my own – a big constrast to continental Europe – and the station data format likely to be the same, I have high hopes that we will see the plethora of mobile apps, maps and visualisations from the community expand to cover NYC.
N.B. The map above is my own estimate based on the press release boundary mentions. The final scheme on launch will not necessarily match these boundaries.