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New York City bike sharing delayed till next spring

New Yorkers will have to wait until next March until the city's bike sharing program launches.

Cycling in New York City can be daunting, but for many facing gridlock and crowded subways, bikes might just be the best way to get around town. New York's very own bike sharing program was supposed to have begun last month.

But last Friday New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, announced that the Citi Bike program is on hold until next spring. He blamed the delay on software problems. Bloomberg said he hoped they would be resolved by March 2013, the new launch date.

According to the city's transportation department, the bike-sharing program, which uses $41 million of private funding from Citi, will start with 7,000 bikes at 420 locations. Under the original plan, the initial launch was to happen in July, expanding to 10,000 bikes at 600 stations by next summer.

“New York City demands a world-class bike-share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on Day 1,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's transportation commissioner.

Alta Bicycle Share, the company operating the bikes, is unlikely to be penalized for the delay, according to The New York Times. The company operates bike-sharing programs in other cities as well, including Chicago and Chattanooga, Tenn., which have also seen delays due to software problems.

“New York’s public bike-share program will not only be the largest bike-share system in the Western Hemisphere,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, in a statement. “It will also be the city’s first, brand-new, full-scale form of public transit since the subway’s debut more than 100 years ago.”

New Yorkers, how do you see the future of bike-sharing in the city? Could it ease the city's notorious traffic jams? Or will safety concerns keep people from seriously considering biking as a commuting alternative?

Photo: Citi Bike

via [The New York Times]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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