Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A 21st Century New Mobility Project

new yorker cover page bikes - girl onlyThe City of New York after something like four years of looking, envying, cogitating, visiting, copying, adapting, hoping, planning, protesting, hesitating, adapting, postponing, innovating, negotiating,  and finally getting the job done is about to open its doors for the grand opening of its new bike share project, Citi Bike.

new yorker cover page bikes - smaller“Urban Cycles” cover page of The New Yorker, 3 June 2013. On the occasion of the launch of the city's first public bicycle project. Cover by Marcellus Hall

The privately funded Citi Bike bike-share program is launching with 6,000 bikes at 330 docking stations in lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The plans are to expand to 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

But . . .

Is this a transportation project? A city project? A social project? Environmental? A money making project for someone?

Who is going to pay for it? How much? Why would a bank want to put their name on it? How will they get their "money" back"?  What about the "externalities" are the brought into the equation in any way?

Who are the customers, all those people who are going to ride  the bikes and pay something for them in the process ($95/year, roughly equal to 19 round trips on the subway)? Will they be old or young? Male or female? Rich or poor? New Yorkers, visitors? Regulars or occasionals?

Why did it take New York so long to do what on the surface looks like a good idea and which exists today in more than one hundred cities around the world, almost all of them sufficiently happy with what they have that they are most unlikely to go backward?

Who loves it? Who hates it and wishes it the worst?  Who is puzzled and/or doesn't care?

What we do know is that this is a true 21st century project. Just the kind of project that the members of this class should and quite possibly will get involved with.  A bit of your future definitely in this.

Nice project for a thesis.

USA New York Citi Bike* Official sponsor page http://www.citibikenyc.com/

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