New York to start bike-share program

New York will see the start of a bicycle sharing system next year with 10,000 bikes deployed in an effort to get the increasingly popular urban transport idea rolling.

Alta Bicycle Share announced Wednesday it had won the contract from New York City for the privately funded system, which will start in summer of 2012, with 600 bike stations in Manhattan and in parts of Brooklyn.

The bicycles will be stationed every few blocks and available around the clock, with smartphone apps available to inform users of availability.

The financing of the network will come from sponsorship and low-cost annual membership fees that allow unlimited usage for 30 to 45 minute trips. Longer trips would be charged extra.

"Bike share is a new form of public transportation that will help connect New Yorkers to their own neighborhoods, to other neighborhoods and to public transit, said Alison Cohen, president of Alta Bicycle Share. "At the same time, it will make New York City a healthier, cleaner, greener and safer place."

City bicycle rental schemes have already proved a success in a number of European cities, including Paris and Barcelona, and have been introduced in US cities such as Washington and Boston.

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