New Yorkers get pumped up for bike sharing

In a parking lot near the East River in Manhattan, Adriana Alltari gathers her courage, lifts her feet off the ground and wobbles away on New York's latest mode of public transport: a bicycle.

Alltari, a 32-year-old engineer, was taking part in free bike riding classes as the Big Apple makes final preparations for a program that will revolutionize a city known more for traffic jams of yellow cabs and other vehicles of the four-wheeled variety.

On May 27, thousands of blue "Citi Bikes," named after their sponsor CitiBank, will appear in high-tech stations around the city in a sharing program modeled on successful projects in Paris and other cities around the world.

For Alltari, who got turned off cycling by a series of crashes when she was eight years old, the road to bicycle heaven is shaky. Taking her lesson against a backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge, she zigzagged, but found herself steadily improving.

The class of about 20 adults, mostly women, was busy ahead of the roll-out for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's twice-postponed project. Alltari said classes were booked solid in March and April.

"It is scary, but fun," she said. "I fell so many times when I was a kid, I decided I will never ever get on a bike. But here I am."

City officials said Thursday the launch date will be the big Memorial Day holiday on May 27. However, at first, only annual pass holders will get to ride, while everyone else, including those looking for the free quick rides, joins in on June 2.

Already, nearly 300 stations have been installed and more than 8,000 people have paid the approximately $100 rider's annual fee.

Initially, New York will get some 6,000 bicycles. The target is 10,000 spread across 600 stations, which will leave only China's Hangzhou, with 60,000 bicycles, and Paris with 20,000 "velibs," boasting more.

The New York program will give cyclists free-of-charge rides lasting up to 45 minutes, but make them pay for any more, with daily and weekly tickets on offer, as well as the annual passes.

After trying a demonstration model of one of the blue bikes, David Dartley, a 38-year-old artist, was sold on the idea.

"I expect to ride them a lot to go to meetings in the middle of the day to go to other offices. It will be better than the subway or a taxi, or walking," he said.

"I'll be able to go to a bar and have some drinks at night and I won't have to worry about biking myself home after: I can leave the bike."

New York has gradually come to embrace the bicycle under health-conscious Bloomberg. But the crowded and sometimes traffic-clogged streets are often considered a hazardous environment for the cyclist.

Dartley said he wasn't worried. "Once these bikes are on the streets, drivers are going to calm down and I think everyone is going to be safer," he said.

Elizabeth Haddad, a 26-year old writer, said "biking in New York is scary and can be dangerous."

But with a helmet, "it is a really good option," she said of the Citi Bike effort. "I've done it in France. They're great."

So far, the New York bikes have only one thing missing, Haddad said: "the basket."

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh The Malaysian Insider
    My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

    A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan, assistant news editor. “My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital... …

  • In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle Associated Press
    In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — When they moved from Georgia to the theme park playground of central Florida four years ago, Anthony and Candice Johnson found work at a barbecue restaurant and a 7-Eleven. Their combined salaries nevertheless fell short of what they needed to rent an apartment, so the couple and their two children have instead been hopping among cheap motel rooms along U.S. 192. …