The much-anticipated announcement of a vendor this week paves the way for the NYC Bike Share program to become the largest in the U.S. The new program, scheduled to launch in summer of 2012, is an affordable, efficient, green — and fun — transportation option designed primarily for short trips around town.

The system, to be operated by Portland, OR-based Alta Bicycle Share, will comprise 10,000 bicycles located at more than 600 self-service, solar-powered docking stations initially planned for Manhattan below 79th Street and a variety of Brooklyn neighborhoods. Users will be able to check out the bikes from docking stations using membership or credit cards. (Suggest a location for a station in your neighborhood here.)

Twenty-two percent of all trips in New York are less than one mile and 46 percent of all trips are less than three miles. [via: NYC DOT]

Alta, which currently runs programs in Washington DC, Boston and Melbourne Australia, will operate, manage and maintain the NYC Bike Share system, while the NYC DOT will coordinate community outreach and station siting. No public funding will be used; revenues are expected to be derived from sponsorships and user fees.

How NYC Bike Share Works

Many details remain to be finalized, but here are the basics:

  • The bikes will be available 24/7, 365 days per year. Mobile apps will help users determine the status of bikes and docking points.
  • An annual membership will cost less than what you pay for one monthly MetroCard. (For reference, a 30-day unlimited-ride Metrocard currently costs $104.) Bike share is meant for short trips, so the first 30-45 minutes are free; a small user fee will apply to longer trips. One-day and other short-term membership options also will be offered.
  • You don’t have to return the bike to the same kiosk where you checked it out. You can extend your ability to ride free by returning a bike to any kiosk, and using your membership card to check out another.

Take a Test Ride

A limited test of the program is planned for spring of 2012. In the mean time, the NYC DOT has scheduled a series of demos where you can road test the sturdy, three-speed Alta bikes:

Learn More Online

For the full schedule of events and all the latest news about NYC Bike Share online:

  • website: www.nycitybikeshare.com
  • twitter: follow @nycitybikeshare and @NYC_DOT; tag your own updates #nycbikeshare

photo: www.nycitybikeshare.com

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