In soliciting bids from private companies to create a vast bike share system across the city, the DOT was quick to preemptively address what's likely to be the first criticism: How much is this going to cost taxpayers? Their answer: sharing is free! "The RFP calls for a private company to bear all the cost and responsibilities for the system during an initial five-year period while sharing revenues with the city, and with no taxpayer funds being used for the system’s implementation, upkeep or maintenance," the DOT said in a press release. But that doesn't mean the bike share plan won't have opponents.
Washington D.C., Denver and Minneapolis have all introduced bike share programs, which have been popular for years in European cities like Paris. (Mayor Bloomberg was impressed by the program during his visit in 2007.) The DOT expects the company that wins the contract to create "a financially self-sustaining program that could include Manhattan south of 60th Street and surrounding neighborhoods. DOT is particularly interested in systems that span more than one borough and that make the best use of the city’s growing bicycle network." The vendor chosen to oversee the program is expected to cover the costs in return for exclusive outdoor advertising rights, and the right to charge a membership fee to rent the bikes. (The Times reports that in Washington, an annual membership costs $75.)
There will be "bike share stations that would be located every few blocks, allowing for easy pick-up and drop-off. The system will allow members of the public to purchase memberships, which would entitle them to an unlimited number of 30 minute trips each day at no additional cost. Trips longer than 30 minutes would likely be assessed a small charge, as bike share is meant to serve short trips." Of course, that raises the question of where the these bike share stations will be placed. On the already crowded sidewalk, or—as in Paris—will the DOT eliminate parking spaces to make way for the sharing stations?
The city anticipates that the system would start in spring 2012, but let's start the arguing now, shall we?