State Senator Michael Gianaris announced today that DOT has added Astoria to the map for Citi Bike expansion, with planning for station locations set to begin later this year.
Gianaris and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer are among the city’s most vocal boosters for expanding bike-share to their districts, located in western Queens. New stations in Long Island City would still count as part of system’s promised first phase — 7,000 bikes and 420 stations by the end of the year.
To bring the system up to 10,000 bikes in a second phase — the size originally announced two years ago — DOT has said it will be looking at the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Cobble Hill, and Sunnyside — all of which were included in the initial round of station planning in 2011 and 2012. Today, Gianaris said in a press release that DOT will be expanding the phase two map to include Astoria as well.
DOT hasn’t responded to a request for confirmation, but Gianaris said the agency told him “they will confirm that Astoria will be included in the next phase.”
Update: “DOT will begin the planning process for Astoria’s future inclusion in the bike share system. No timetable has been set for this neighborhood or the others in Queens,” DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel said in an e-mail.
Gianaris didn’t know how much of Astoria might be covered by the expansion. “I don’t want to speak out of turn here; that’s a decision DOT will make with the community,” he said, but added that his discussions with the agency have included a broad swath of the neighborhood, including Steinway. “In fact, I could argue it’s more important in the northern parts of the neighborhood,” Gianaris said, stressing the benefits of bike-share to areas beyond the reach of the subway.
Gianaris also said that DOT’s planning for station locations would begin later this year. “They were very big on stressing to us that they want to do everything collaboratively with the community,” he said. “I imagine it would be along the lines of what they did in phase one.” The initial planning process included more than 150 public meetings across the bike-share service area.
The schedule for funding and installing any bike-share expansion remains unclear. “The timeline on that is a little bit vague because they need to get phase one fully running,” Gianaris said. So far, DOT has said that Sandy recovery money and additional sponsorships are being considered as funding sources for system expansion. The MTA indicated that it might cover some costs of bike-share expansion in North Brooklyn and Long Island City to help make up for weekend G train outages, but those weekend repairs have already started. We’re awaiting word from the MTA about whether this is still a possibility.
Update: “Nothing new to report at this point,” MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said via e-mail. “Talks are ongoing with both DOT and elected officials.”