The DOT is inching closer to implementing a city-wide bike share program, perhaps starting with the Upper West Side. According to the West Side Independent City Councilwoman Gale Brewer is pushing for a pilot program in the neighborhood, and in a letter to the DOT commissioner, she writes, "The size and density of the 6 district, the diversity of our constituency, and our position between Central and Riverside Parks would generate valuable user data for future planning." But can New Yorkers really share? And who will pay for it?
Paris funds its bike-share program by letting the bike vendor sell ads on street billboards, but NYC already has a street furniture ad deal with Cemusa. So any citywide share program would probably be paid for in large part by members fees, and the DOT estimates that a yearly pass would probably cost $60. Sharing cyclists might also buy one-day passes for $5, paid for with the swipe of a credit card.
But Lisa Sladkus, a community organizer for the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign, reminds the Westside Independent, "In order for it to be successful, it would need to be all over the city...If a program was limited to the UWS, it would be fun for those few who live up here, but it wouldn’t be a true public bike system that allows people to use it AS public transit."
Then there's the problem of vandalism and theft; in Paris 80 percent of the initial 20,600 share bikes—which cost $3,500 a pop—have been stolen and sold on the black market in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. They've also been trashed in joy rides, found hanging from lampposts, and dumped in the Seine. So can Upper West Siders treat these share bikes in a more civilized manner than the French? If not, the pilot program could die on the vine.