Citi commits $42 million to New York's bike sharing program

Close to 7,000 bicycles are scheduled to hit the streets starting in July.

There are advertisements plastered over virtually every edifice, structure or public transit vehicle these days, so why should a portable bike station be any different?

When the New York City bicycle sharing program officially kicks off in July, New Yorkers will see financial services giant Citi's name on virtually every street corner. That's because the company is putting roughly $42 million into sponsoring the rollout of the program over the next five years, according to a spokeswoman for the non-profit that's running the program, Alta Bicycle Share.

Representatives for the bike sharing program were on hand last week during Citi's tour of its 200th LEED-certified building , the Platinum-rated Union Square branch.

The program is meant to cover situations where the New York subway or bus transit system doesn't quite manage to get a commuter from his or her residence to their place of employment. Close to 420 stations will be deployed in July, each of which will have about 15 bicycles, so the initial fleet will have about 7,000 bicycles. The Penn Station rack alone will support 150 bikes.

The Citi Bike's representative on-hand in Union Square said participants will be able to purchase daily, weekly or annual memberships that give them the right to sign out bikes. (An annual membership in $95.) Participants receive a "key" that will enable them to unlock the bikes, which they can use for approximately 45 minutes. When he or she is done with the ride, the bike is locked up at the next station. The security and sign-out system works on solar energy; so each of the portable stations boasts solar panels.

The stations are being placed in areas of greatest demand; apparently, Alta has attended close to 200 boards meetings with the New York City Department of Transportation in preparation for the rollout this summer. If a station is being underutilized, it can be moved to a different location relatively easily. Alta will also run a rebalancing program to make sure stations aren't empty.

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New York City bike sharing: coming this summer

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