The Department of Transportation was very excited to announce today that Alta Bicycle Share, a Portland-based company, will be responsible for the much talked-about New York City bike share program. That and being able to break out the bike puns: "The wheels are officially in motion for NYC's bike share program," said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The announcement was made at a pedestrian plaza in the Flatiron district, on Broadway between 22nd and 23rd, where the DOT has installed the first bike share station for the privately funded program. Today was the official kick-off of the outreach program, which will include meetings with community members all over the city to plan where these stations will be and how they'll best suit the communities (as well as demonstrations—they've got six planned). The DOT expects that the program will launch in the summer of 2012 but seems hesitant to make any promises. "We've got a long way to go," cautioned Sadik-Khan.

The bikes will be assembled in New York and should create about 200 local jobs, and in the Spring the DOT will be doing a reliability and durability test with the bikes to make sure they're safe. Partnership for New York City chief Kathy Wilde seemed really excited about all of this, and pointed out that it's "terrific that it's a woman run company!" Alison Cohen, president of Alta, thinks they'll be the "next icon of NYC, like the yellow cab." Here's how it works:

  • A yearly membership costs $100 though rides shorter than half an hour are free
  • There will be 10,000 bikes in 600 locations
  • Users can check bike availability with forthcoming informative apps
  • Users just swipe a card at the solar powered system and it unlocks the bike
  • Bikes can be returned to any station, making single rides and short rides easy
  • The first stations will be located around Manhattan and north western Brooklyn
  • New users will receive coupons for discounts on helmets at local bike shops.
  • A GPS system will be put inside each of the bikes (don't bother trying to steal them, or trying to flee the post-Apocalyptic police state by bike)

And even though Fashion Week is almost over, it goes without saying that bike sharing is always in style.