New Maps Help New Yorkers Get Excited About Bike Share

5.23.12 | Change is coming to the streets of Manhattan. The first bike share stations are set to arrive in New York City later this summer, when the city will join the ranks of places like Paris and Portland in providing public access to bikes for short trips as an alternative to driving or public transit. The bikes also aim to solve the “first and last mile” of local commutes and tourist trips by better connecting riders to public transit.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has just released long-awaited maps of planned bike share station locations, which will be midtown, lower Manhattan and also parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The program will be the largest bike share system in North America, according to DOT.   The city plans to have 600 stations and 10,000 bikes on the streets of New York by 2013, with the first bikes available this July.

The city had invited New Yorkers to weigh in on their proposed locations. They received 70,000 location suggestions and comments on its web site, according to the New York Times. They also held bike share demonstrations, open houses and attended community planning meetings throughout the city to solicit ideas and get community buy in.

Yet Citi Bike, named for its corporate sponsor, Citibank, has still received a fare share of criticism  – mostly because of its high price tag.  The proposed cost of the annual pass is almost 100 dollars.

“You might as well just buy your own bike — or hop on the subway,” the New York Post quipped recently.

Map/ CUNY Center for Urban Research

But some smart analysis by CUNY’s Center for Urban Research, led by GIS mapping wiz Steven Romalewski, is causing some of the skeptics to begin to have hope. Their analysis shows that most of the proposed bike share stations are pretty close to subway entrances, and even more are closer to bus stops.

We’ve raved about maps being developed out of the Center for Urban Research before. Romalewski is the Director of CUNY’s Mapping Service that works with foundations, public agencies and researchers to use spatial information and analysis to help people better understand large data sets. They specialize in making these online interactive maps that make it easier to see and understand data at the neighborhood level.

Last year they released a fascinating set of interactive maps that show block-by-block changes to the racial and ethic makeup of 10 major urban regions in the US since 2000. They used similar maps this past March help present a more nuanced picture of neighborhood racial makeup and refute recent findings that segregation is over in the US.

Here, Romalewski wanted to find out if the proposed bike kiosks in New York City are close enough to subway and bus stops for people to actually use them. He examined the 413 bike share stations posted on DOT’s website and created maps to show how close the proposed kiosks are to subway entrances, bus lines and also how big each bike station will be (number of bike docs per kiosk).

He finds that half of the proposed stations are within an avenue of a subway entrance and two-thirds are within a block of a bus stop. And almost all of the bike share stations (95%) fall within an avenue of a bus stop.

“I was skeptical of the program at first,” Romalewski writes in a post on his blog.

“And I’m still a bit wary of so many more bikes on the road all of a sudden — I walk in fear when I cross a city street, because of cars and bikes).  But now that the Citi Bike program is moving closer to reality and the numbers look so good, I’m looking forward to trying it out.”

You can see his full analysis and view the interactive maps at the Center for Urban Research.

Plus, the nonprofit group Walk Score that works to promote more walkable neighborhoods has just released Bike Score and their rankings of the most bikeable U.S. cities in the U.S.

Minneapolis and Portland top the list, not surprisingly. But New York City makes an appearance, mostly because of its efforts to build new, safer bike lanes, Walk Score’s Matt Lerner told NPR. The Bike Score is based on four criteria: the number of bike lanes and hills; the nearness of destinations; and the number of bike commuters. See how your city holds up here.

Photo by Shelley Bernstein.

2 Responses to New Maps Help New Yorkers Get Excited About Bike Share

  1. Bloomberg invested a lot of money and efforts in this green idea and I hope they will execute it in the right way.
    The organizing of the bike share stations will be a tough thing to do. I cannot imagine adding 600 bike share spots and 10 000 bicycles in the city. That will be crazy.
    With all the tourists and New Yorkers around…it will be tougher than catching a cab during the rush hour.

  2. Latest news from the Bike Sharing campaign – it is coming to New York City in March and it is sponsored by City Bank and MasterCard. Therefore their logos will appear on all the bikes and bike stations.
    People will have 3 options – an 24 hours access, a week and an monthly one.
    24-Hour pass: $9.95
    7-Day pass: $25
    Monthly Membership: $95

    The idea is to be cheaper than the MTA services and to promote the green way of transportation.