Citi Bike Launch Re-Scheduled for March [Updated]

Making his weekly appearance on WOR with John Gambling this morning, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the software problems affecting Citi Bike equipment won’t be resolved in time to launch New York’s bike-share system this year.

The Public Bike System Company, which makes the stations and bikes that NYC will use, recently dropped the company that makes software for its successful systems in London, Washington, Boston, and Montreal, citing a dispute about billing. Glitches with the new software kept Citi Bike from meeting the initial July launch target, and the mayor confirmed this morning that the new target is next spring.

Update: A press release from DOT pegs the new launch date as March 2013, when the system is scheduled to go live with 7,000 bikes at 420 stations. After launch, Citi Bike will expand to its full 10,000 bike/600 station coverage area. This matches the original phased implementation announced earlier this year. The announcement states that all parties — the city, the private operators of the system, and the main sponsors — have agreed to this new timetable.

The press release includes a status report on the system’s software:

NYCBS [New York City Bike Share] continues work to conclude manufacture and testing of the high-performance software necessary to operate the new system, which is being tailored for New York City. The system uses new solar power arrays and circuit boards, and engineers will continue to thoroughly test data communications, power management and payment systems to ensure overall system performance.

Here are some excerpts from the mayor’s radio appearance this morning:

Unfortunately there are software issues. The software doesn’t work. Duh. Until it works, we’re not gonna put it out…

It really has very advanced technology… each station, the dock, each place you’re sticking a bike is a computer. Everything needs to work perfectly. They run on solar power so you don’t need a lot of wiring and there’s no burden on the electrical system. There’s an enormous number of transactions that you have to communicate in real time to central computers…

We’re just not gonna launch it until spring.

The mayor also touched on the recent flurry of front-page “bike bedlam”-style coverage in a certain daily tabloid:

Meantime, one of the big problems is there are bicyclists who break the law, speed… a friend of mine, I don’t know that he wants anybody to know, but a guy, most people would recognize his name, he got hit, run down in the back…

That’s gone on forever. Keep in mind, people get hit by cars every day. People fall off a roof. Lots of things go on. That doesn’t make this any better, but if you put it in context there are few. But any one is one too many and the question is, we’ve got to figure out how do you slow down bicycles

At this point Bloomberg considered speed bumps for bikes but ruled them out because they would affect car traffic too much. Then he got back into more of a livable streets groove:

Every place where it’s worked is very popular. And the world is going towards more bicycles. They’re not gonna replace cars, but you can’t get more cars on the streets and you have to have other means of transportation. Walking is one thing, bicycles another and buses, subways, those kinds of things. And the streets are there for everybody. The streets are there for people and not just for automobiles.


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