New Yorkers’ Nightmare: Thousands of Cheap Bikes Plus Millions of European Tourists

It is bad enough that slow-moving tourists clog up the city’s sidewalks, Abercrombie and Century 21 bags bulging at their sides like pack animals. Imagine navigating the city’s streets and bike lanes when a new bike-sharing program rolls out in 2012.

The program was announced today by the city’s Department of Transportation, which is seeking a developer who would pay all upfront costs as well as share revenues from bike rentals with the city. This is great news for cyclists, transit wonks, even bus riders and drivers, as the streets and subways should become less crowded. The city even stands to make some decent money on the program if it takes off.

Still, bike-share programs in places like D.C. and Chicago have faltered  due to faulty implementation. In both cases, the programs have become glorified tourist transportation to a degree, either because bike stations were clustered around sightseeing spots where locals don’t go, or there is over-reach and the stations are plentiful but spread too far to be practical for errands. The latter would seem to be the primary purpose of the New York system, as daily, weekly and monthly passes will be available, with all trips under 30 minutes being free after that.

By no means is The Observer opposing the plan. It would just be nice if the bike-share system were useful for people who would want to use it the most. You know, New Yorkers. Bicyclists already get no respect in this town. Let’s not make it worse by throwing a bunch of confused tourists into the mix.

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo