Citi Bike Expansion Plan Gets Going on the Upper West Side [Updated]

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Participants filled about a dozen tables for two separate hour-long sessions of bike-share station siting exercises last night. Photo: Larissa Zimberoff

A public workshop last night set in motion the planning process for bike-share on the Upper West Side, part of Citi Bike’s phase two expansion that will double the number of stations and reach up to 125th Street by 2017. NYC DOT said the station map for the neighborhood should be finalized sometime this fall but did not give a timeline for implementation.

DOT and Citi Bike staff held the event last night to get feedback from Upper West Side residents and Community Board 7 about where to site new bike-share stations in the neighborhood. Every chair was occupied at both of the one-hour sessions at the Presbyterian Church at 150 West 83rd Street.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Joe Robins (Citi Bike member #560) as he sat down at one of the dozen or so tables covered with maps, Sharpies, and colored flags to mark potential bike-share station sites. It was a sentiment many seemed to share.

The question that seemed to preoccupy most participants was: “Will there be a station near my home?” When asked if they would prefer to place stations on the sidewalk, in the roadbed, or in public plazas, most attendees didn’t indicate much of a preference. One gentleman voiced a desire for stations at corners versus mid-block, which has been the typical practice for the current Citi Bike network.

With Citi Bike expanding to the Upper East Side as well, park access and navigating east and west through Central Park was another key concern. While progress has been made on bike access across the park, direct routes are still limited. There will also be no stations in Central Park, consistent with a blanket policy of avoiding station sites inside city parks with evening closures, since Citi Bike stations must operate 24/7.

Another open question is whether NYC DOT will provide a safe northbound bike route on Amsterdam Avenue to pair with the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane. Protected bike lanes on the Upper West Side remain scarcer than in the existing Citi Bike zone, but Community Board 7 has dragged its feet on moving forward with a protected lane for Amsterdam.

The presenters also disclosed the most popular Citi Bike trip routes (Penn Station to Grand Central, Pier 6 to the East River Ferry, and City Hall to DUMBO, to name a few), and laid out how the number of docks per station is determined by neighborhood density (neighborhoods are rated on a scale from 1 to 9, 9 being the most dense).

As for the precise timeline of the expansion, details were scarce. The general plan calls for doubling the size of Citi Bike from 6,000 bikes and 350 stations to 12,000 bikes and 700 stations by 2017. When complete, phase two will extend up to 125th Street, into western Queens, and into more Brooklyn neighborhoods. DOT Press Secretary Bonny Tsang told Streetsblog, “We might have final plans by the fall, but certainly no stations installed by then.”

Update: In an email to Streetsblog, Bonny Tsang wrote:

While we anticipate to take draft plans to the CB in the spring, we’ll see what community input we receive before we can finalize plans, and then we will have an implementation timeline. For 2015, we are prioritizing putting stations in Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and the rest of Bedford-Stuyvesant. We hope to have stations in Upper Manhattan sometime between later this year and 2017.

So what’s next? After this round of public workshops, DOT and Citi Bike will review the station siting requests and draw up plans, which will be presented to community boards. DOT and Citi Bike will then draft final proposals, which will be shared with key stakeholders. Then implementation will begin. Unlike the initial launch of Citi Bike, which turned on hundreds of stations at once, the expansion will happen in a phased approach, working from the inside out. And according to one DOT staffer, the UWS and UES phases of the expansion will go live together.

If you didn’t make the session you can give your feedback online at the city’s suggestion portal.

Station planning is also in works in North Brooklyn. Next up: Siting Williamsburg bike-share stations at the Community Board 1 meeting on Tuesday, February 10, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Swinging 60’s Senior Center, 211 Ainslie Street.

Update: The Williamsburg stations were already sited during the initial round of Citi Bike planning in 2012 and 2013. Next month’s meeting will be a public presentation to the Community Board, not a station siting workshop.

  • Joe Enoch

    Sad to read that the station sites won’t be revealed until the Fall. I was hoping the installation would be done by then. I know it’s a process but I want it now!!!

  • ohnonononono

    I think keeping the docks out of Central Park also goes toward making it clear that bike share is for transportation, not necessarily designed for recreational riding in loops around the park…

  • D’BlahZero

    It’s not the installation per se that will take additional time. The docking stations are modular and self powered, so they can go in rather quickly. I think the issue will be will Motivate have the hardware by then?

  • Joe Enoch

    Yeah, big question mark there. Some furniture mogul in Quebec has the manufacturing rights and the factory was put on hold a while ago.

  • Anon resident

    Lincoln Center BID staffed showed up. We would hope that they understand this is a great amenity to the area for the workers of ABC on the West End. Commuters who come to work on LIRR or Metro North actual enjoy a ride to work and it’s nicer than being underground.

  • Wilfried84

    Will there be another round of bikelash this time around, with people fighting stations near their buildings, at community boards and with lawsuits, etc., regarding begrimed streetscapes, and taking cherished car subsidies in the form of parking? Siting last time happened a bit under the radar, so some of the NIMBYs were caught off guard. They’ll be ready this time. Or has the success the existing system calmed the naysayers? Certainly no one can credibly scream about safety or blood in the streets, or perhaps would be naysayers now see the utility of the program. I’ll be interested to see how this all goes.

  • AnoNYC

    This is great, finally a quicker way to get crosstown along 65th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 97th, and 110th. I hope they roll out both sides of the park simultaneously.

  • We need better crosstown bike routes. The shared path at about 95th through Central Park is a good first step, but that path needs significant repaving and some grade leveling to be truly viable as an efficient bike path. Also, the lack of any off-street path between 95 and 72 (Terrace Dr) forces far too much bike traffic into the narrow (and also very rutted) transverses at 79 and 85, which unfortunately is also shared with some very large and scary crosstown buses.

  • Jonathan R

    I used to use the uptown end of the Great Lawn oval late in the evening to get between E 84th St and West 85th St. I agree that the 95th St path could be better implemented. Can they do grade leveling in Central Park?

  • WoodyinNYC

    I cross using the unused horse path/much used police parking lot immediately north of the 86th St Transverse.

    Not sure its legal, but it works.

    Of course, I’m white and old and look like I could have money, so I don’t get the usual class-and-color based hassles.