Midtown Bike-Share Stations Eyed by Locals

By Mathew Katz on March 15, 2012 8:27am 

Midtown residents and business owners choose their favorite spots for potential bike-share stations at a meeting on Weds., March 15, 2012.
Midtown residents and business owners choose their favorite spots for potential bike-share stations at a meeting on Weds., March 15, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

MIDTOWN — Dozens of Midtown residents and business owners became urban planners Wednesday night at a seminar to provide input on where locally the city's new bike-share stations should go.

With more than 60 attendees, the seminar at the Municipal Art Society was the most well-attended of the many the city Department of Transportation have organized over the past few months. As one of the areas most heavily-trafficked by tourists, Midtown will have some of the most-used pickup and drop-off stations once the program kicks off in the summer.

The concept is modeled after similar programs in Paris, London and Washington, D.C., with the expected July roll-out set to include 10,000 bikes that can be borrowed from and returned to any of 600 solar-powered stations across the city.

Using green stickers to mark preferred spots on a map — and red ones for bad — attendees worked to whittle down hundreds of suggestions from an online survey to a handful of workable locations for the bike-share stations. In the denser areas of the city, like Midtown, that means including one station roughly every four blocks.

"This is a genuine crowd-sourcing project," said Kim Wiley-Schwartz, the DOT's assistant commissioner for education and outreach. "When you stick an arrow down on here, it will be taken seriously."

The stations will be set up and run by Alta Bike Share, and will cost roughly $8 to $10 for 24 hours of unlimited use, or about $95 to $100 for an annual pass.

Midtown residents were largely enthusiastic about the idea, hoping to put stations near homes, work, gyms and heavily-trafficked areas.

"It'd be good for museums, and also for the periphery of Manhattan, especially getting to the waterfront," said Candy Cook, who lives in the neighborhood.

Others suggested placing bike-share locations near subway stations as a way to commute to work.

"I can take the bike to the train station, then hop on the subway," said Rhonda Caiati. "We can get a little workout before we go to work."

However, a handful of people expressed concerns about safety with the addition of hundreds of bike riders in an already congested area.

"I'm concerned about the sidewalk," Cook said. "What if someone gets hit?"

Wiley explained that the project will add more accountability to cyclists, since it will be easier to track who took out a bike involved in a collision, something many attendees found comforting.

"It's better than it is now, because you can identify the cyclists," said John Benfatti.

The DOT plans on introducing a safety and awareness campaign when the bike-share program launches in July, with the ultimate goal of making bike travel a more accepted way to get around the city.

After all of the public input seminars are completed, the DOT will present plans with tentative station locations to community boards in Manhattan and Brooklyn this spring.

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