After delays, setbacks and opposition, the Citi bike share program began Monday.
More than 10,000 people have already signed up for access to 6,000 bikes at 330 stations in Brooklyn and in Manhattan below 59th Street.
The goal is to eventually have 10,000 bikes at 600 stations.
Already, 15,000 people have signed up for the $95 annual membership. They all received special keys in the mail, and can now take unlimited 45-minute rides from Citi Bike docking stations in Manhattan below 59th Street and in Brooklyn.
Riders with weekly and daily memberships can start using the bikes on June 2.
In addition, about 10,000 have registered for the app, which can help riders find different stations around town and check if there are bikes at those stations.
"It's very important for everyone who uses Citi Bike to follow the rules of the road and to be cautious, especially if you're not accustomed to riding a bike in the city," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Using Citi Bike is a great new way to get around town, but just as when you're walking or driving, it's important to be aware of your surroundings and to be careful, especially because it will take some time for drivers and walkers to get accustomed to seeing thousands more bikes on the streets."
"We have the A train, and we have yellow cabs, and we have the Staten Island Ferry, and today, Citi Bike joins the ranks of the transportation icon family in New York City," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "And it's been over 75 years since our streets have seen a new public transit system, and people are enthusiastic."
Citigroup paid $41 million to sponsor the program, and no government money is being used.
Not everyone is pleased with the program, however, as some say the stations take up parking spaces and are generally in the way.
"The city is a bit heavy-handed in putting the program in neighborhoods that are residential, with advertising," said Russell Orenstein, a critic of the program. "They had first put it on the side of the street that our building is on, blocking our entrance and egress, making it difficult for to unload packages, which is the minor part. The safety issue, with regard to ambulances and fire can't get in as easily. Garbagemen have to throw the garbage over the bikes."
The city said sites were chosen after several meetings with local elected officials and civic groups.
For more information, as well as a link to download the Citi Bike app, visit citibikenyc.com.
It didn't take long for someone to walk off with one of the new Citi bikes.
Police said thieves struck at 25th Street and Second Avenue Sunday while workers were setting up.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that given the size and weight of the blue bike, police don't expect a spike in thefts.
"The bike itself is pretty easily identified," he said. "It's certainly not a racing bike. It's pretty solid and chunky, if you will. So I don't know how desirable the bikes will be, as far as theft is concerned. We'll have to wait and see."
Kelly said the thief will be charged with petty larceny if caught.
He said they are looking through surveillance video.