MANHATTAN — As the city's big bike share program kicks into gear, at least one real estate developer is pedaling its own version for residents of 10 of its luxury rental buildings.
Related Companies is touting its program as the city's first resident-based bike share program. While some Manhattan buildings fought to get the Citi Bike share stations away from their properties, Related is counting on its tenants penchant for getting around on two wheels — carving out storage space for the bikes in the garages or parking structures of the buildings.
Related-owned buildings from TriBeca to the Upper West Side have access to the Breezer Uptown model bikes, a lightweight but sturdy bike designed for urban riding, complete with a basket for groceries or takeout. The bikes are free for up to two hours. After that there's a $5 fee for the day.
"Residents will be able to experience the ultimate in convenience while exercising, running errands and living green,” said Daria Salusbury, senior vice president of Related, which has incorporated other eco-minded features, including using "green seal" cleaning products, low VOC paints and energy conservation measures.
To hop on a bike, tenants simply text the number of the bicycle —which has a bike lock with a key stored in a lock box — to get the access code for the lock box. Riders then send another text when they're done to release the bike for the next user. The bikes must be picked up and returned from the same location since the program is designed to encourage recreation as opposed to commuting, which is the focus of the city's bike share.
Related, which partnered with bike share company Zagster, initially began the bike share program at its Boston properties before bringing it to New York. Depending on demand, the company may expand the bike share program to other sites it owns in NYC. Next, they plan to extend it to Chicago and San Francisco, they said.
Just as Related sees biking as a hot and green amenity, the real estate site StreetEasy.com is betting that apartment seekers are interested in how close a building is to a Citi Bike station. The day after the city's bike share launched last month, StreetEasy added a bike share map to its search engine.
StreetEasy has also created a bike-friendly atmosphere for its roughly 30 employees. Its CEO, Michael Smith, who sits on the board of bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, offered to reimburse staffers' initial fee for the city's bike share, and its SoHo office has a swanky custom-designed bike rack inside for up to 14 bikes.
"We have a good proportion of our staff who commute to the office every day from Upper Manhattan and Brooklyn in any weather condition," StreetEasy's Sofia Song said.
StreetEasy also has bike share maps for Miami and Washington, D.C.