1) The most visible event so far is New York City’s new bike share program, with a planned 7,000 to 10,000 bikes rolling out throughout 2012. The very publicized launch is accompanied by a media frenzy over the $41 million sponsorship the program will receive from Citigroup.
Many are wondering whether the record sponsorship is going to redefine bikesharing as an attractive industry for advertisers. Does this impact upon the service afforded to residents and visitors, other than a lighter burden upon the city of New York's coffers? Or is it better to have to seek out an independently-run and privately owned operator like BikeNation? Is corporate sponsorship such a bad thing? As Sarah Goodyear asks this month in Atlantic Cities.
2) The number of IT-based bikeshare operations is going to sky-rocket throughout 2012. There are currently 16 in operation throughout the US — more than 20 are planning a launch this year. These are big, ground-breaking bike shares — Chicago with 3,000 bikes, San Francisco with 1,000, Los Angeles with 4,000. Shared bikes are set to become a staple of the urban environment.
3) Another sign of this rise is the amount of research being done around bikeshare programs. A quick Google search reveals an international array of projects and studies by students on the subject, in Denmark, China, or in the US just to name a few. There is talk of bicycles as social platforms and as vectors of community. Local bicycle coalitions are getting traction throughout the country with bicycle passing laws and expanded funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Even the US federal government is looking into exploring bicycle options for federal lands! It seems like we’ve finally discovered that bicycling is, after all, a cheap, convenient, and healthy way of getting around. And according to Jay Walljasper, that’s a good thing for everyone.
Further Thinking: Comparing Paris and New York
New York's program will be operated by NYC Bike Share, whose parent company is Alta Bicycle Share. The program is supposedly fully funded by Citigroup's 41 million dollar sponsorship, which runs for five years.
Paris' Velib is operated by JC Decaux, who reportedly makes approximately 60 million euros in exchange of an operating cost of 40 to 50 million dollars a year.
Of course their contracts are very different - and Citigroup will have little to nothing to do in operating the program. If anyone has some insight on comparing these two systems and their financials, I'd love a good source or conversation.
Further Thinking #2:
Emily Washington paints a very interesting picture of the falsity of bikeshare as a public good ("The two characteristics that define public goods are non-excludability and non-rivalrous consumption") and provides some insight on the question of equity and bikeshare ("About 80% of CaBi annual members are white, over 80% have college degrees, and 43% have graduate degrees") in a recent article.