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Share and Share Alike: New York City Launches the Nation's Largest Bike-Share Program with a Little Help from Standards

The country's largest bicycle sharing program was recently launched in New York City. Named for lead sponsor Citigroup, the Citi Bike program currently has 6,000 rentable bicycles at more than 330 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The program is intended to provide New Yorkers with a transportation option for short trips and offer visitors a fun new way to explore the city. The program depends on a variety of technologies to allow for its effective operation, and voluntary consensus standards play an important role in support of many of the devices and products used in the roll-out and operation.

Citi Bikes have been specially designed for urban use, with features including nitrogen-filled puncture resistant tires, pedal-powered safety lights, and shock absorbers, along with other more typical features. ISO 4210:1996, Cycles -- Safety requirements for bicycles, provides safety and performance requirements related to the design, testing, and assembly of bicycles. It also includes instructions regarding effective bicycle use and maintenance. The standard was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 149, Cycles, Subcommittee (SC) 1, Cycles and major sub-assemblies. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator ASTM International serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to both ISO TC 149 and SC 1.

A related standard, SAE J 1451-2007 (SAE J1451-2007), A Dictionary of Terms for the Dynamics and Handling of Single Track Vehicles (Motorcycles, Mopeds, and Bicycles), helps effectively describe bicycle design. Developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer SAE International, the standard is intended to span the gap between vehicle dynamics specialists and those with a more general interest.

New York City government is strongly encouraging Citi Bike riders - and all bicyclists - to wear a helmet, and Citi Bike offers annual members a $10 discount on the purchase of helmets at local bike shops. A standard developed by ASTM International, ASTM F1447-12, Standard Specification for Helmets Used in Recreational Bicycling or Roller Skating, covers performance requirements for helmets used by bikers and skaters, and includes recommendations for lightweight design and effective ventilation.

The Citi Bike program is expected to benefit greatly from the 255 miles of bike lanes added to New York City streets since 2006. These lanes have been credited with making biking in New York an increasingly safe and efficient way to get around. ASTM D2205-85(2010), Standard Guide for Selection of Tests for Traffic Paints, helps assure that paints used to demarcate bike lanes are durable and effective.

To rent a Citi Bike, individuals are required to either sign up online for an annual membership, or buy a day- or week-long membership at a bike station by using their credit or debit card. ANSI X9.24-1:2009, Retail Financial Services Symmetric Key Management Part 1: Using Symmetric Techniques, provides guidance for debit and credit card point-of-sale (POS) transactions like the Citi Bike kiosks. Developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer X9 Incorporated Accredited Standards Committee (ASC X9), the American National Standard (ANS) addresses generation, distribution, storage, replacement, and other aspects of the key management process.

While Citi Bike is still in the early stages of its roll-out, big things are expected from the program. Increasing the number and availability of bicycles is expected to boost public health, promote safer driving, and make getting around New York an easier task for thousands of people - with some help from standards, of course!


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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