Monday, May 27, 2013

NYC's Citi Bike Launches with Much Excitement

Today the streets of New York City and Brooklyn are filled with 3,000 brand new blue bikes as part of the Citi Bike service which has been many years in the making. There are many articles already in the media about the "yay sayers" and "nay sayers", so this post is about the technological improvements that the equipment provides, advancing bike-sharing in leaps and bounds.

The first of Citi Bike's exciting advances in bike-sharing technology, developed by Public Bike System Company, are a solar mast and a combined key fob and smartcard reader. With New York's skyscrapers, getting sufficient direct sunlight to the ground was an issue that was solved with the addition of a solar mast atop the kiosk. The solar mast is a 5-6' pole that also is about 6" in diameter and collects not direct sun, but ambient light.

 The improved dock includes a dual slot for both the standard key fob and a larger smart card slot for a future multi-transport card, likely to combine both the subway and bikes in the future.

Other minor advances which may not invoke oohs and aahs, but as the program manager for Arlington's portion of Capital Bikeshare, I'm looking forward to bridging that can turn a location with impediments into a feasible site. This bridging can zig and zig around a tree well, manhole, fire hydrant, etc. and transform a space that was too small into a candidate for a station. As every inch of urban space seems to be spoken for, this minor advancement is a big deal.

One "only in New York" advancement is the little circle covering the dock holes on platforms to make room for deliveries. With such large stations, these gaps allow stations to be long while providing space for those deliveries to be made.

While I'm saddened to see Capital Bikeshare lose the title of "Largest Bike-sharing Service in the U.S.", I'm invigorated to have millions more using bike-sharing and furthering this crazy little concept that continues to spread throughout the world like wildlife. In Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", he sings that if he can make it there, he can make it anywhere. As bike-sharing has been successful everywhere worldwide, it can make it there -- in New York too.

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