The Department of Transportation dazzled curious Greenwich Village residents last night at the Manhattan Community Board 2 meeting with a presentation [pdf] about the much-anticipated bike share program. Slated to launch in July 2012, the program will initially service Manhattan below 81st Street and reach as far into Brooklyn as Park Slope, Bed-Stuy, and Crown Heights—an area with 1.2 million residents that sees more than 2 million daily commuters and visitors. The key points:

  • Wireless, solar-powered stations that require no digging or roadwork, and can be removed easily during the winter, will be installed in clusters as dense as "one station every 1000 feet in either direction," said a DOT spokesperson last night.
  • Day and week passes will be available for $8-10 and $20-25 respectively.
  • Those wishing to take advantage of the $90-95 annual pass will be issued electronic "keys" similar to a flash drive, and will never have to fumble with a credit card.
  • Users will get unlimited 30-45 minute trips, and those traveling under 30 minutes are free without buying a pass.
  • The DOT contends that tourists will basically subsidize the cost for New Yorkers.
  • In addition to a 24-hour service line, the program will also utilize smart phone technology by offering an app that allows users to get a real time read on exactly how many bikes are available at a given station.

Already taking suggestions for station locations, DOT will present up to four times as many as needed so that individual communities can help decide what works best for them. Stations will likely fill voids on wide sidewalks, over subway grates, in parks and pedestrian plazas, as well as a number of parking lanes.

Last night, most boardmembers and attendees expressed great interest in the program, but a few critics worried about overcrowding, safety, and accessibility for handicapped riders and children looking to cruise the streets. "We could explore alternative bikes, maybe an adult tricycle for added stability or something like that, but there is definitely a height minimum to reach the peddles," said the DOT spokesperson. NYC Bike Share is BYOH (that's Bring Your Own Helmet), but the bikes are outfitted with lights that are always on, built-in bells and reflectivity, and are certainly not meant for speed. Additionally, DOT offered convincing statistics that as cycling has boomed in Washington, DC, Paris, and London—cities with similar bike share programs—the number of crash related injuries has actually decreased.

No word yet on who will claim official sponsorship of the program, but it isn't supposed to cost taxpayers a dime. In fact, with a 50/50 split on revenue, the DOT estimates it could actually bring in about $13 million in the first year of operation, while creating about 200 permanent jobs. A number of program demonstrations are taking place throughout the city this fall, so stop by and take a bike for a spin.