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

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.

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