The privately funded Citi Bike bike share program launched in New York this week, after lead sponsor Citigroup Inc. The 6,000 bikes are stationed primarily in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, with over 300 docking stations. Officials hope to eventually expand to 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The program could potentially ease traffic congestion and air pollution for New York. Riders now can unlock the three-gear, cruising-style bikes from any station, take them for 45-minute rides and return them to any rack. Of all the more than 500 bike-sharing systems around the world, New York's is the biggest in the United States. Almost twenty thousand people have already signed up for New York's program.
The city has hundreds of miles of bike lanes and promotes cycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to driving. Officials see bike-sharing as a big next step. Citi Bike subscribers pay a $95 annual fee for unlimited rides of 45 minutes. Starting June 2, riders also will be able to buy a 24-hour pass for about $10 and a seven-day pass for $25; both allow for an unlimited number of 30-minute trips. The usage time is logged when a bicycle is returned to a dock, with additional charges if the bikes have been out past the allotted time.