bah humbug no more! new rochelle bike share, westchester county’s first, not leaving after all!

UPDATE (12.21.2019): Post updated with Mayor Bramson’s response (it’s great news) – see below.

After arriving with much fanfare, I received a shocking update on New Rochelle Bike Share via email yesterday. The update? An article whose title explains it all – Bike Share to Leave New Rochelle.

Since there’s literally nothing about this on the media or Google, I gotta ask – what the hell happened?!

I tweeted about this yesterday (there’s a thread in there):

What could’ve caused New Rochelle Bike Share’s untimely demise? The press release states that “there has been a lack of demand for bike sharing services within the community.”

I’d love to see the ridership data as I’m not convinced. In any case, if bikeshare truly didn’t catch on in New Rochelle, I can think of a few reasons why.

First, there are NO BIKE LANES in New Rochelle. None. Zero. Combine that with wide roads with fast-moving or congested traffic (like North Avenue, Main/Huguenot Streets, Memorial Highway, Lincoln Avenue, Palmer Avenue, and others – some of which have no sidewalks), and you have a recipe for disaster. A key study shows that protected bike lanes enhance safety for all road users (including car drivers) – but unprotected lanes don’t, and sharrows are worse than nothing.

Given this, does recently-reelected New Rochelle mayor Noam Bramson’s Complete Streets plan pass the smell test? The best I see is a buffered bike lane on Lincoln Avenue, so the answer is: better than nothing, but probably not.

The second reason is similar to NYC’s Citibike – the bikeshare network doesn’t cover all of New Rochelle – only downtown (except the Wykagyl golf course):

[Fig. 1] The New Rochelle Bike Share network. If this map is correct, the bikes are in disarray, with many bikes outside the designated “drop zones.”

While it makes sense to start a bikeshare in the city’s downtown, you gotta expand it to make it a feasible alternative for more residents. I discussed this with the wife and we came to the same conclusion – there’s gotta be more to this story, especially given that the email presser linked above is, as of now, the only evidence of New Rochelle Bike Share’s impending doom. Did the city of New Rochelle have a falling out with P3 Global Management, the company behind the bikeshare? Or is Mayor Bramson letting it die, adopting NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio’s cowardice when it comes to “inconveniencing” drivers? After all, he could say “well, we tried this bike thing and it didn’t work.”

Or maybe you didn’t want it to work?

EDIT: Mayor Bramson wants it to work – see below. I’m glad the cynic in me was wrong about this!

Not content with letting things die, I sent a letter to Mayor Bramson imploring him to save New Rochelle Bike Share:

To the honorable Mayor Noam Bramson:

Good afternoon. I am writing this message concerning the New Rochelle Bike Share. Earlier this week, I received a message from New Rochelle Bike Share informing me that the service will end on December 31st, 2019. As a proponent of bikeshare and safer streets with protected bike lanes (and ideally, a network of such lanes), I am writing to express my deep disappointment regarding this.

You billed New Rochelle Bike Share as Westchester County’s first bikeshare program. I’ve used it several times and found the experience comparable to the larger Citibike system in NYC – which is to say, enjoyable. These bikes not only gave us another option to explore New Rochelle, they also gave us a recreational option that was previously unavailable. Given the looming threat of climate change, I think removing these bikes – which would make New Rochelle more car-centric and car-dependent – is a very bad idea.

What was New Rochelle Bike Share’s ridership like? Why not trial an expansion beyond downtown and build the proper infrastructure (i.e. a network of protected bike lanes) instead of removing the bikes altogether? Studies have shown that having the proper infrastructure in place encourages bike use – and New Rochelle’s wide roads, fast-moving traffic, and narrow or nonexistent sidewalks (especially beyond downtown) aren’t really encouraging!

In short, I ask you to reconsider removing the bikeshare. NYC grew its Citibike ridership through expansion and infrastructural changes, and I believe New Rochelle can do the same. SAVE NEW ROCHELLE BIKE SHARE!

EDIT: Here is Mayor Noam Bramson’s response:

Thank you very much for being in touch. I am pleased to report that New Rochelle has contracted with a new vendor to preserve our Bike Share program.

Please see the attached press release for additional information.

Very best,

Noam Bramson

We’re five days away from Christmas, but it appears New Rochelle’s on the verge of receiving a lump of climate-changing, car-centric coal. SAVE NEW ROCHELLE BIKE SHARE!

EDIT: No lump of coal for New Rochelle after all! New Rochelle Bike Share will live on – albeit in a different form. The current system is still going away, but a new system will take its place. Here’s the updated press release (with emphasis from me):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 20, 2019

City of New Rochelle Partners with VeoRide on New Bike Share Program

The City of New Rochelle is excited to announce the next chapter in its bike share program with a new partnership with VeoRide. Based in Chicago, VeoRide is a mobility sharing company operating in over forty communities in eighteen states. New Rochelle is proud to be the company’s first community in New York State.

VeoRide’s program and app will operate similarly to the existing bike share program, which will be phased out over the winter. Users will download an app, sign up for the program, find a nearby bicycle and be on their way.

Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon noted “A healthy community requires a robust, multimodal transportation network. This new partnership with VeoRide will enable us to continue providing an accessible choice for residents and visitors to get around our growing city.”

“VeoRide is proud to be selected by the City of New Rochelle, which was looking for an experienced new mobility partner with a reputation for having successful localized operations they can have collaboration with and confidence in,” said Candice Xie, CEO of Veoride. “With this engagement, the City of New Rochelle joins the ranks of a growing number of cities that are choosing VeoRide as their exclusive shared micromobility provider thanks to our solid commitment to safe, sustainable operations and creating the safest products on the market.”

While VeoRide’s initial rollout is just for bicycles, the company is prepared to expand the program to include scooters and ebikes, pending legislation before Governor Cuomo.

For further information on the bike share program, contact Kevin Kain, Director of Planning and Sustainability at (914) 654-2191, or kkain@newrochelleny.com.

Scooters! E-Bikes!! AWESOME!!!

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