Six thousand bright blue bicycles were released into New York City's streets yesterday in the launch of what will be the nation's largest bicycle sharing program. Alta, the same company contracted to run NYC's program, is also set to build Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS) here in Seattle.
NYC's bike sharing launch has coincided with no small amount of bickering and complaining (watch the video, it's kind of hilarious) over the placement of bike racks. Still, it sounds like the program is off to a great start. The New York Times reports that some 13,768 miles have already been logged on the bicycles.
Worryingly, Alta was hit with labor complaints in Portland today, largely from rebalancers, who "drive trucks around cities to pick up bikes and move them around to balance inventory to meet demand at busy docking stations," alleging unpaid wages and benefits. But things still look promising for PSBS, which bills itself as a public/private partnership. PSBS received a $1 million federal grant on Friday, meaning it's on track to launch in early 2014, Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog reports. Fucoloro points out that now would be the perfect time for a local corporation to step in and fill the remaining funding gap for PSBS:
Look at all this amazing exposure for Citibank [sponsor of NYC's Citibike program]. Being a big sponsor of Puget Sound Bike Share would be an incredible marketing deal. PSBS is actively searching for a company to step up with a big enough sponsorship to gain naming rights, and that door could swing shut soon (some ideas: XBikes, Amazooms, Starbikes, LOLBIKES or I Can Has Bike Share, REI BIKE, Vulcancycle, QFCyles, COSTCOcycles, Velo Nordstrom, PEMCO Bike, F5 Bike, Velo ZymoGenetic…)
So let's hear it, folks. Presuming Alta deals with its labor issues and a Puget Sound Bike Share comes together as planned...