Late last month, Together North Jersey circulated its latest report, Exploration of a Public Bike Share System in Hudson County, which examined the prospect of a regional bike share network between Hoboken, Jersey City and Weehawken.
The report arrives 16 months after the three cities announced their own plan for such a system, which was slated to launch last summer. But by September, the 800 solar-powered, “smart” bikes were nowhere in sight, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop backed out, opting to pair up with New York’s Citi Bike system instead.
Along with Jersey City went 60 percent of the system’s projected size and $2.5 million in sponsorship. Mayor Fulop later defended his decision, saying it’d “be foolish if we didn’t try to capitalize on the proximity” to New York City and its already successful bike share system. By January, Jersey City had awarded its contract to Citi Bike’s operator, Alta Bicycle Share (now Motivate), with the prospect of allowing members to use bikes on either side of the Hudson with a single membership.
That convenience comes at a hefty price compared to Hoboken-Weehawken’s proposed system. Each Citi Bike costs $5,000 compared to the $1,200 German-manufactured NextBikes—a disparity due in part to Citi Bike’s docking stations versus NextBike’s “smart lock” technology which allows bikes to be locked up virtually anywhere. Both programs will rely on private funding, but given the discrepancies in expenses and scope of the adjacent networks, Jersey City will need to depend more heavily on sponsors if it wants make a profit (something Citi Bike has yet to do.)
As of yet, neither the Hoboken-Weehawken nor the Jersey City bike share systems have launched. On June 16, a press release from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s office noted the city was “very close to finalizing the sponsorships” for the system. Part of the original agreement last year mandated that the system would be running within three months of “total sponsorship commitment of at least $1.0 million.” It has been suggested the prolonged delays may be a sign of deficient sponsorship.
Jersey City has also faced delays: this April, four months after awarding its bike share contract to Motivate, no paperwork had been drawn up reportedly due to “a number of unresolved issues.” The following month, though, Fulop asked residents for docking location suggestions for the program’s summer launch.
There is some good news though: bicycle infrastructure is expanding in Hudson County, including more than 22 miles of bike lanes in Jersey City. Hoboken also has a plan to install three miles of protected bike lanes from Marin Boulevard to Hoboken Terminal.