Monday, 6 May 2013

Citi Bike Makes its Debut in New York City to Cheers and Jeers

by Sheila Shayon

New York City’s Citi Bike bike share program is finally ready to launch, with 6,000 bikes and 330 docking stations spreading in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but plenty of New Yorkers have already found something to complain about. 
The just-placed docking stations are causing parking and delivery problems for residents and business owners.According to CBS Local, drivers are being forced to stall their vehicles in no standing zones while others have noted that the docking stations block loading docks and drop-off points. “I don’t know how we’re going to be able to operate really now effectively. It’s sad, dramatic negative impact,” Carlo Giurdanella, owner of Bella Tile told CBS. 
'Installation frustration' is just the beginning of the gripes that city-dwellers have with the bike share program. It's been noted that the Citi Bike rules include a statement about overweight riders, effectively banning persons over 260 pounds from using the bicycles. Appalled by the statement, many are calling the program discriminatory and the rules unfounded.
Another hotly-debated issue is safety. While bike share programs in Boston and Washington, D.C. have seen only a handful of accidents occur among the millions of rides taken, Bike Share programs cannot provide helmets to riders due to sanitary concerns, in turn raising safety concerns for riders who are inexperienced traveling among cars, buses and taxis on busy NYC streets.
The city is encouraging helmet use by offering coupons for new bike helments and fittings, but is resisting enforcing a mandatory helmet law as it would discourage people from using the service. In an effort to help the city out, Citi is sponsoring Citi Bike Street Skills safety courses. Anyone attending the class will recieve a free 24-hour pass to try out Citi Bike. 
Despite detractors, the programpromises to generate $36 million in activity and 170 new jobs for the city, not to mention some serious advertising for Citibank, which paid $41 million for the contract, and payment partner MasterCard, who pledged $6.5 million. 
Mayor Bloomberg’s concerted—and controversial—efforts to make the lives of his constituents healthier across giant-sized sugary drinks, unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes and now bike-riding have touched a nerve with New Yorkers, but for those already engrossed in similar programs, they say bike sharing could be a good thing. 
Dominic Boone, manager at Bike and Roll in Washington D.C., said that bike sharing has softened the city's once militant stance toward bikes. "Everybody's used to them now, because there are so many out there," he said. "It hasn’t been a problem at all."



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