New York City's Citi Bike scheme has seen 6,000 bikes launched across 330 stations across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Unlike London's Barclays Cycle Hire, Citi Bike is not being subsidised by the city and is instead solely funded by global bank Citi, to the tune of $41million.
"The Citi Bike program is a big win for New York, and it's already the largest bike share system in the nation," said NYC Mayor Bloomberg. "It's going to give New Yorkers another way to get around town by extending connectivity from subway and bus stops. It's also going to be great for our millions of visitors, allowing them another way to see the city, including making our incredible waterfront more accessible."
Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said other cities had inspired the launch: "World-class cities have made bike-sharing a key component of their transportation networks, and we are confident that New Yorkers and visitors from around the world will use Citi Bike during their daily routines and to explore our city."
Helmet use is strongly recommended by the scheme, but not a requirement. Instead the scheme is offering cycle hire members a $10 discount on helmet purchases. Notably, the Citi Bike site includes links to New York's bike shops.
While criticism of London's Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has centred on the nuts and bolts of operation – like having nowhere to park a bike at busy docks – small numbers of New York residents have taken umbrage at the launch, specifically where the bikes docks have been located. That's despite 400 meetings with local communities to determine the best locations for docking stations.
The Guardian reports that 'small pockets' of demonstrations have complained about one docking station taking the space of a plot once reserved for public art works.
The current goal of Citi Bike is to see 10,000 bikes and 600 stations across New York.