As Citi Bike Stations Appear, DOT Recaps How People Helped Pick Sites

Over the weekend, the first Citi Bike stations were installed. And before you could say, “the New York Post,” NYC DOT put out a report today reviewing the extensive public planning process that informed hundreds of bike-share station siting decisions. The next time you see a story about a handful of people complaining about the placement of a bike-share station, remember all the thousands of New Yorkers who participated in this process.

One of 159 public meetings where New Yorkers told bike-share planners where they want Citi Bike stations to go. Photo: ##

Also buried in the report is a significant piece of news about pricing: DOT revealed that Citi Bike will offer $60 annual memberships (a discount from the regular $95) to NYCHA residents and members of Community Development Credit Unions.

In 2011 and 2012, Streetsblog reported on the online portal where New Yorkers could suggest bike-share stations and the public workshops where participants mapped out where they wanted stations to go. Here’s what the report says about how DOT used that information to come up with a preliminary map of 600 bike-share stations:

Eighteen months of meetings, demonstrations and discussion, 14 community planning workshops, and more than 10,000 online suggestions produced a vast quantity of information on where New Yorkers wanted to see Citi Bike stations. DOT’s first task was to code and synthesize the workshop results from nearly 3,000 possible station locations. Locations that received red “No” arrows during the workshops were removed and locations that received significant numbers of green “Yes” votes were highlighted. Suggestions for other stations not depicted on the maps were vetted by DOT staff to ensure they met the technical criteria.

Comments received via the Website or recorded by note-takers at the workshops were added in. Stations that received votes via the Website were prioritized over stations that had not. DOT planners then used a Geographic Information System (GIS) program to create a predictive model for how big each individual station would need to be. The model analyzed the surrounding land use (residential, commercial, parkland, schools, etc.), population, tourism rates and subway turnstile counts and other transit use throughout the program area. The model also made use of newly available taxi GPS data on origins and destinations of trips, as well as durations and times of day throughout the city.

The next step was to marry the public opinion information gathered in the workshops, through the Website, and through months of conversation with stakeholders to the overall map of technically viable locations and the station size model. DOT planners combined all the comments received over the multi-year process with the technical information in order to select one station within each grid square. A wide array of factors – specific requests or comments, neighborhood preferences, proximity to transit and other destinations, distance from other stations, access and proximity to bike lanes, station size in relation to the demand model – were all considered.

DOT staff matched the overall community request profiles also generated in the workshops. For example, in Manhattan, Community Boards 2, 4, and 5 stated strong preferences that stations not be sited on sidewalks, while Brooklyn’s Community Board 3 and Queens Community Board 2 preferred locations on sidewalks. Stations selected in these areas were matched to these preferences.

A few more nuggets from the report:

  • The interactive station planning map received more than 10,000 suggestions for station locations, with more than 55,000 votes in support of suggested locations.
  • DOT staff found up to five feasible locations for each station before working with community boards and other groups to whittle down the list.
  • In an effort to reach low-income communities, there will be a station within one block of each of the 29 NYCHA properties in the bike-share service area.

Other cities are taking note of how NYC prepared for bike-share. Chicago, for instance, used the same online mapping technology (which was developed by OpenPlans, Streetsblog’s parent organization) to ask for input on station locations. Documenting the whole process in this report should serve as a how-to manual for other cities planning bike-share systems.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I attended two of these workshops and they were great. All kinds of folks showed up, not just bike enthusiasts. The events were well organized and truly participatory. It was fun!

  • I recall the Upper East Side workshop I attended. There was a good mix of people from the community and we shared our ideas using the stick-on arrows and other interactive materials of the charrette. It was very well done.

    I do recall, however, that one group of Community Board 8 members who were each fundamentally opposed to bike share in concept decided to sit together at the same table and not mix. At the end, I went over to peek at their results. the had simply marked out entire sections of the Upper East Side from participation in the program with heavy black magic marker on the map, without placing any green arrows to indicate where the kiosks *should* go. Those people are still out there, and that is their idea of “good process.”

  • Ben Kintisch

    I reckon those folks will not be riding Citi Bikes. They will be busy shaking their fist at the heavens.

  • Anonymous

    At the planning event I attended, most people were great, but one couple simply black-arrowed every proposed bike kiosk within a five block radius of their home – apparently unwilling to give over any on-street parking spaces to bicycles. Clearly there is a need for at least one kiosk in that area and others participants made sure to put a few green arrows at a proposed kiosk near a subway station that had been black-arrowed. I assume DOT has the good sense to discount that kind of wholesale rejection of bike share kiosks at the planning meetings.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Hopefully we’ll have some articles about the top down process led by a zealot that rammed bikeshare stations down people’s throats, with zero references to this entire process.

    To put all the similar articles and assertions in their proper perspective.

    You’ll still hear it. The people who think they own the world and we are just living in it will be offended if they were not the only ones consulted. Which is how traditional NY politics works, and how it still works in Albany.

  • Clarke

    When people talk about bikes being “shoved down our throats”…I don’t hear anything bad. New York City needed something, and these are the steps that are necessary to becoming a modern, accommodating city.

    Very excited to see how long until the false-safety of sharrows is truly exposed to all.

  • Mel

    Cincinnati used the same online mapping technology as well.

  • Mel

    Cincinnati used the same online mapping technology as well.

  • Ramona

    any one followup wih this all these meetings were a total waste, all the input online was a total aste, they had a plan already it has been proven and none in the bronx, what a total waste of time. and I am a citybike member and support the idea too!


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