Five-Borough Bike Share: Mayor de Blasio Announces NYCDOT Plans to Expand Public Bike Share with New "Dockless" Technology

December 15, 2017

City will review and select ideas to complement Citi Bike system by bringing bike sharing to more outer-borough neighborhoods, including in the Bronx and on Staten Island

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the NYC Department of Transportation is today releasing a Request for Expressions of Interest aimed at bringing bike sharing to outer-borough neighborhoods that Citi Bike has not yet reached — including in the Bronx and on Staten Island. The RFEI seeks innovative companies and ideas around next-generation “dockless” public bike share systems. The City will continue to support and strengthen Citi Bike, and prioritize new systems that complement existing service. Citi Bike has had more than 53.5 million trips since its launch in 2013.

“New Yorkers have embraced public bike sharing faster than anyone expected. These past four years, we’ve strengthened Citi Bike and doubled its size. Now it’s time to take the next big step and bring safe, reliable and affordable bike sharing to even more of the city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Citi Bike has been a unparalleled success story in providing New Yorkers affordable, safe and green transportation, but as we are learning from around the U.S. and the world, the next generation of bike share in New York City may not even require that the bikes themselves be parked in docks,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “With so many companies anxious to prove their skills in serving our City’s diverse, demanding and lucrative market, this RFEI allows us to create different pilots and evaluate what works best, allowing us to move far beyond the limited neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens that Citi Bike now so ably serves.”

The RFEI seeks ideas from innovative companies that can provide additional bike sharing outside of the current Citi Bike service area. This will ensure new systems do not undermine current bike share service, and bring bike share to underserved areas.

The new RFEI will allow the City to evaluate emerging dockless models for bike share service that have lower capital and operating costs and may help bring bike share service to more outer borough neighborhoods, at a faster rate, than is possible under the current model for Citi Bike expansion.  The priorities of the new RFEI will include:

  • Exploring the concepts of “dockless” models for providing bike share services and investigate the feasibility of instituting such options in areas of New York City not currently served by the City’s existing Citi Bike Program.
  • Examining the practicality of a “free-locking” bike share in New York City. Free-locking bicycles include mechanisms that unlock bikes via mobile phone and render  them inoperable when not in use.  They are otherwise free-standing, i.e. not locked to a dock, bike rack, or any other fixed object. 
  • Seeing that dockless bike share operations are safe for both riders and pedestrians, and that vendors can ensure their bikes do not obstruct other street and sidewalk uses.
  • Examining vendors’ plans and capabilities for keeping bicycles within a designated service area.
  • Determining standards for “rebalancing” (making sure bikes are evenly distributed across a service area to meet community demand) ahead of any pilot launch.
  • Exploring bike share models that are both sustainable and affordable for New Yorkers.  (In other American cities with dockless systems, trips are often priced at $1 per 30-minute ride.)

The RFEI defines a dockless system as a network of publicly available bicycles with technology that allows for all essential system and locking components to be installed in the bicycles themselves, and thus eliminates the need for docking stations. Bikes may be parked and rented from any point within the service area boundary where bicycle parking is permitted.  Bicycles may also be required to meet functional standards set by DOT and the City would define standards for any permissible parking areas as part of its role in prioritizing the safe and orderly management of public space.

The RFEI could be followed by pilots that would allow the City to determine the practicality of the service, evaluate individual vendors and their equipment, observe how multiple operators interact and coordinate in area served by multiple vendors, and monitor the rates at which New Yorkers adapt to dockless formats.

"The people of The Bronx have shown incredible enthusiasm for bike sharing programs, and this RFEI represents an excellent opportunity to explore and examine innovative new ideas that could finally make bike sharing a reality in our borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “As we continue to advocate for the expansion of Citi Bike to The Bronx we should explore other potential bike sharing possibilities that could also meet the demand of Bronxites who patiently wait for such opportunities to come to our borough. I look forward to seeing the responses to this RFEI, and I will continue to work with partners at all levels to bring bike sharing to The Bronx."

“Staten Island remains unserved by bike share, and we want to see that change as quickly as possible,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “This RFEI is the first step in a process that will conclude with a responsible operator providing Staten Islanders with an affordable, safe, and convenient bike share system that is designed and operated in a way that reflects the unique character of Staten Island.”

“Expanding New York City’s bike share network is vital to our efforts to ensure convenience and affordability of the transportation options for commuters,” said Congress Member Adriano Espaillat. “Today’s announcement requesting new proposals for innovative bike share programs to complement the Citi Bike system further enhances our ability to improve urban mobility throughout the five boroughs in an environmentally friendly way for residents and tourists.”

“Cycling will need to be a prominent part of our mix of transportation options as the city works to reduce traffic congestion and mitigate climate change,” said Congress Member Nydia M. Velázquez. “We’ve already seen the success of Citi Bike and a dockless bike share system will encourage more New Yorkers and visitors to our city to adopt this healthy, environmentally sustainable transportation mode. I’m glad to see the City moving forward to explore options in this area.”

"I welcome additional bike sharing outside of the current Citi Bike service area,” said Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz New bike rental location will help make sure that bike sharing is brought to communities outside the Citi Bike network. Bike riders who respect and obey our traffic laws are most welcome to ride our streets."

“With the growing number of commuters choosing alternative transportation methods, I believe systems, such as dockless bike sharing provide even more opportunities throughout all five boroughs to keep up with this trend,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi. “I look forward to continue working with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) to support dockless bike sharing.”

"Equity should be at the heart of expanding bike share programs," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. "Citi Bike has increased access to affordable alternative transportation. With more options, bike share can be an affordable option for more in the city and significantly contribute towards achieving many of our goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and relieving congestion in various areas throughout the city. I look forward to learning about the proposals that come before the City and the innovative ways they plan to build on the proven success of bike sharing."

"We have spent years working to get bike sharing in all five boroughs and although we have made a lot of progress some areas don't have it. After personally meeting with vendors to look into how areas that do not have a bike share system yet could be better served I am grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio for this opportunity and for announcing this Request for Expressions of Interest designed to bring bike share to all of New York City in a safe and organized way that will not create clutter in our streets," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“Biking is increasingly becoming one of most affordable and convenient ways for New Yorkers to get around,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “As the number of cyclists grows, we need an effective way to accommodate them. A ‘dockless’ public bike share would allow us to bring Citi Bike to locations that wouldn’t be able to fit a dock, like the Bronx.” 

“Residents in outer-borough communities are starving for transportation options and dockless bike share can help to fill the void,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “As a vocal advocate for the expansion of public bike sharing, I am thrilled DOT is looking to bring affordable and eco-friendly bike sharing to geographically-isolated neighborhoods, like the Rockaways.”

Since its arrival in 2013, bike share has proven an effective and popular component of advancing the City’s transportation, traffic safety and sustainability goals, alongside the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to double cycling by 2020.  More than 60,000 Citi Bike trips are taken per day during peak season.  Annual Citi Bike subscriptions stand at over 130,000.

The newest RFEI comes as New York City nears full implementation of the de Blasio administration’s expansion of Citi Bike, which in 2017 has expanded its reach to Upper Manhattan, brownstone Brooklyn and into Long Island City and Astoria in Queens.  In 2014, Administration officials created a new management structure for Citi Bike, bringing in Motivate, the company that has stabilized and improved Citi Bike, doubled its size to 12,000 bikes and 750 stations.  Supporting and enhancing existing Citi Bike service remains among the City’s top priorities.

The RFEI can be found here.  For more information on New York City’s bike share system please go to www.nyc.gov/bikeshare

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