The NYC Department of Transportation revealed last week where they’d like to place 400 or so bike share stations in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens, as the next step in the city’s new bikeshare program starting this summer. (By next spring the city plans to locate a total of 600 bike share kiosks for 10,000 bikes.)
Several blogs and news reports have criticized the cost of the program as too expensive for relatively long bike trips (more than 45 minutes). But the program is really designed primarily for the “first and last mile” of local commutes and tourist trips to and from their destinations. Now that the city’s map is out, we can evaluate how likely it is that the locations will meet this goal.
Subway and bus proximity
Last year I examined the thousands of bike share kiosks suggested by “the crowd” to see how closely they were located to subway entrances. I determined that, as of late September 2011 based on almost 6,000 suggestions, one-third of the suggested sites were within 500 feet (actually, if I had used 750 feet — the average distance between avenues in Manhattan – it would’ve been 45% of the suggested sites located that distance or closer to a subway entrance). You can still see the crowdsourced locations here.
So about half of “the crowd’s” suggestions were close to public transit, and the other half further away. That seems reasonable — perhaps half the suggesters were thinking of how to link bike share with the subway system, and the other half was thinking about linking bike share to destination sites further away from mass transit.
Here’s my map from last year of the subway entrances symbolized based on the ratings of the closest suggested bike share kiosks. This map says, “If you want to put bikeshare stations near subway entrances, these are the entrances you’d pick based on the average rating of the closest stations suggested by the crowd”:
I had suggested this as a way of prioritizing the bikeshare station siting process. These subway entrances are the ones you’d likely start with, based on the preferences of the (bike)riding public who contributed to the DOT/OpenPlans map.
But now that the bikeshare station siting process is pretty much done, I’ve examined whether the proposed kiosks are close enough to subway and bus stops to actually facilitate their use by the intended audiences.
How do the actual proposed locations measure up?
For me, the city’s proposed bike share program is a great deal — if the kiosks are near my home and my office. I live on Manhattan’s west side and work in midtown. Since I live near my office I’m lucky to have a pretty easy commute. But usually that involves a good amount of walking: my trip uptown is just one subway stop, and then going crosstown involves either a bus (luckily the M34 Select Bus is pretty reliable) or a
schlep walk of several avenues. Don’t get me wrong — walking is great exercise. But if I could shorten the walk and save money, I’m all in.
According to DOT’s map [PDF], there’s a bike share kiosk proposed down the block from my apartment, and another one a block from my office. Nice! I could actually replace the subway/bus combo with a bike ride for a fraction of the cost. But what about the rest of the Phase 1 area? Are the kiosk locations designed to easily extend subway and bus trips for the “last mile”?
Here’s what I found: most of the proposed bikeshare locations are relatively close to subway entrances, and even more are closer to bus stops. At least regarding the locations, the system seems right on track to meet its goals of facilitating New York’s commuter and tourist trips.
Here’s what I measured
The DOT bike share website displays the proposed kiosks on a Google Map. But a separate URL lists the lat/lons of each site (in JSON format). There are 414 bike share lat/lons at this URL (not the 420 that all the news accounts referenced), and one location has a lat/lon of zero (ID 12405), so I deleted it leaving me with 413 locations. (I used Google Refine to convert the JSON file to CSV and imported it to ArcGIS to analyze the locations.)
But this data just shows the locations. It omits information about each site (such as “North side of East 47th Street near Madison Avenue ”), and the number of bike “docks” at each proposed kiosk. Separately, Brian Abelson wrote a script to access this information from DOT’s website, based on a URL that looks like this:
(His R script is here: https://gist.github.com/2690803 . With this data I was able to map the kiosks based on number of docks at each one; see map below. Big thanks to Brian!)
Proximity to subways
Here’s the map of proposed kiosks in relation to the closest subway entrances (based on the latest data from MTA on subway entrances/exits); I used ArcGIS’s “Near” function to calculate the distance:
Here are the stats:
- 89 locations (22%) between 14 and 250 feet (length of a typical Manhattan block);
- 117 kiosks (28%) between 250 and 750 feet (the average distance between Manhattan avenues);
- 97 kiosks (24%) between 750 and 1,320 ft (a quarter mile);
- 89 kiosks (22%) between 1,320 and 2,640 ft (a half mile); and
- 21 kiosks (5%) further than 2,640 feet.
(The percentages do not equal 100% due to rounding.)
- The proposed kiosk closest to a subway entrance is in lower Manhattan, on the west side of Greenwich St near Rector St (ID 12364), 14 feet from the Rector St entrance to the 1 train.
- The kiosk furthest from a subway entrance is on Manhattan’s west side, in the Hudson River Greenway near West 40th Street (at the West Midtown Ferry Terminal; ID 12092), almost three-quarters of a mile (3,742 feet) from the 40th St entrance to the 42nd St/Port Authority Bus Terminal station.
In other words, half of the proposed kiosks are within an avenue of a subway entrance, one-quarter are within two avenues, and the rest are further away.
So I guess it depends on your level of optimism (glass half full or half empty), and/or how far you’re willing to walk between your destination and a bike rack to participate in the Citi Bike program. But in general it seems that the proposed kiosks match the overall location patterns of the crowdsourced suggestions, and also support the goal of facilitating first/last mile transportation.
Proximity to buses
Here’s the map of proposed kiosks in relation to the closest bus stops (based on the latest data from MTA / ZIP file). Note that I didn’t differentiate between local, limited, or express bus stops. As with subway entrances, I used ArcGIS’s “Near” function to calculate the distance:
For bus riders, the bike share locations are even better suited than subway riders to help them go the last mile:
- 55 proposed kiosks (13%) between 27 and 100 feet (less than a typical Manhattan block);
- a whopping 199 kiosks (48%) between 100 and 250 feet (length of a typical block);
- 139 kiosks (34%) between 250 and 750 ft (typical distance between Manhattan avenues);
- 16 kiosks (4%) between 750 and 1,320 ft (quarter mile); and
- only 4 kiosks (1%) further than 1,320 ft — and none further than 1,652 feet away (about a third of a mile);
So for bus riders, almost two-thirds of the proposed kiosks are within a block of a bus stop, and almost all of them (95%) are within an avenue. Pretty good odds that bus riders will have extremely convenient access to the Citi Bike program.
I was skeptical of the program at first (and I’m still a bit wary of so many more bikes on the road all of a sudden — I walk in fear when I cross a city street, because of cars and bikes). But now that the Citi Bike program is moving closer to reality and the numbers look so good, I’m looking forward to trying it out.