DOT Finalizes Weak Bike-Share Station Maps for Manhattan Expansion [Updated]

DOT’s bike-share expansion maps for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side are now final, and they’re not any better than the draft maps that showed a thinned-out network of stations for some of the city’s densest neighborhoods.

UWS_thin_bike_share
The orange discs represent areas that would have bike-share stations in a well-designed network but don’t in DOT’s plan for the Upper West Side. Map: Transportation Alternatives

The final maps shift a handful of stations around but don’t add any (here’s the UWS final and draft map, and here’s the final and draft map for the UES).

That’s a problem. In each neighborhood, the planned bike-share network falls about 10 to 12 stations shy of the 28-stations-per-square-mile density recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The likely result will be a more frustrating experience for bike-share users above 59th Street, and fewer subscribers than a densely-sited network would generate. If this is how DOT is going to handle station siting in the rest of the bike-share expansion zone, it will spell trouble for the whole system.

As Streetsblog reported earlier this month, the thinned-out bike-share network in these expansion zones arises from a dispute between DOT and Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike. DOT wants the next wave of bike-share to reach all the neighborhoods that were promised as part of the “phase 2” expansion, but Motivate doesn’t want to supply the number of stations needed to attain effective density throughout that area.

While Motivate supplies stations, the company can’t install any without permission from DOT. So far, though, DOT appears to be refraining from using this leverage to get more stations out of Motivate. Unless something gives, New York is going to be left with a subpar bike-share network not just on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, but throughout the expansion zone, which is supposed reach Harlem, western Queens, and several more Brooklyn neighborhoods by 2017.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side in the City Council, and Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side. The council members could make a difference by telling DOT they want an effective neighborhood bike-share network for their constituents. Neither office, however, has replied to Streetsblog’s requests for comment.

Streetsblog has a request in with DOT about what might prompt the agency to beef up the bike-share networks in these neighborhoods. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

Update, 6:50 p.m.: DOT sent the following statement about the system expansion and bike-share network density…

DOT is committed to achieving the target program density across all parts of the Citi Bike system, which will ultimately require adding more stations to both the Upper East and West Sides, and the other portions of the Phase II expansion area.

That said, our current focus is on successful planning and implementation for the Phase II Citi Bike expansion as agreed upon by the City and Motivate in December.

As Motivate continues to clear the many challenges it faced when it assumed ownership, and as New Yorkers continue to ride in record numbers, DOT is confident that we and Motivate will agree upon a solution that provides the stations needed to bring the entire Citi Bike program up to its target station density.

Achieving full station density in the outer boroughs and Harlem–and not just in the most heavily visited portions of Manhattan–is essential not only for fairness and transportation dynamics, but also for facilitating future “Phase III” expansion that can bring economic and mobility benefits to neighborhoods currently underserved by existing modes of transit.

DOT remains committed to this goal, and feels confident that we and our partners at Motivate will meet it.

Helen Rosenthal’s office also sent this statement from the council member:

I’m thrilled Citi Bike is coming to the Upper West Side, and I’m signing up as soon as the docking stations are installed. I appreciate that DOT has agreed to closely monitor their use to determine if additional stations are feasible.

  • Larry

    Poor supply of bikes in these areas will also lead to rebalancing problems and high rebalancing costs for Motivate

  • Daniel

    There are not just too few, but they are badly placed too. They are at the edges. If you are going to place fewer stations they should be along Columbus and West End Avenues. Then people would have shorter walks to get to these bicycles. Right now, not only is most of the neighborhood not covered, but 10 of the 13 stations’ coverage zones include parks, where no one lives.

  • HamTech87

    Only benefit to this map is that my mother-in-law is too far from a station. Another excuse not to visit! 😉

  • Alexander Vucelic

    getting cross town on citibike will take less than 15 minutes instead of 25 with cab and 35 with bus.

  • Citi Bike rider

    I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t DOT start by shrinking the expansion zone by whatever it takes so that the same number of stations satisfies the 28-stations-per-square-mile recommendation? Then, after it resolves the dispute with Motivate, it can gradually expand the zone and maintain the station density. DC and other cities often open one or two new stations at a time to expand their systems.

    It seems like DOT is weighing the political consequences of not expanding bike share as far as it promised against the benefit of making this a system that actually works as intended. One would think that after the lessons of opening Citi Bike with sub-par software and re-balancing issues, someone at DOT would be wary about hurrying an expansion that will have a no less frustrating set of problems.

    Where’s the leadership at DOT?

  • rao

    I think you’re misinterpreting the map displayed with this post. It’s not labeled very prominently, but the orange shows you where there *won’t* be stations, but should be.

  • rao

    Does Motivate want the system to fail?

  • J

    This is highly disappointing. Big big swaths of the expansion zone are nowhere near bike share stations.

    NYC started out so good. What happened?

  • OK, fine, but WHEN IS IT COMING!?

  • J

    That map seems pretty misleading, making it seem at first glance that there are only 13 stations proposed for the UWS, when in fact there are 39. I know the caption explains it, but the way the map has been created is really bizarre. To show station coverage areas, you’d typically draw a circle around each station. Thus to show the areas not covered, you show the areas not covered by circles. This map, however, shows a bunch of circles for non-covered areas, which is both inaccurate and misleading.

    If there is a story here, let’s be honest and tell it accurately, with proper graphics.

  • Daniel

    Thanks. In that case I think they left out the right places for the most part.

  • I struggle to understand your comment. Why do you think these places don’t need coverage?

  • I slapped on some header text to clarify. I can see why this visual isn’t intuitive, but the absence of 10-13 stations is a difficult thing to convey and might not have come across clearly in the method you propose.

    I can assure you this is a problem. DOT realizes it’s a problem. Motivate realizes it. It’s not a good situation.

  • J

    Thanks, Ben. I think that title is helpful. Still a weird map, but I get what the point is.

  • BBnet3000

    Are they still not agreeing on what has to give? Its fairly obvious that without city funding Motivate is not going to put in a greater number of total stations than they agreed to, so the only thing that can give is the expansion area.

    The city presumably is pushing the “like butter spread over too much bread” approach because of what they perceive the De Blasio philosophy to be: providing more services to farther-out neighborhoods. It’s time for them to take the lead from Hizzoner’s actions and completely capitulate to the opposition from Motivate.

  • All I know is they’re in talks and it’s a fluid situation.

  • DRDV

    You mean you want this Helen Rosenthal to help out?

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/04/28/uws-residents-ask-helen-rosenthal-why-she-kept-street-safety-foe-on-cb-7/

    Not likely. She’s an enemy of safe streets, and this is probably exactly what she wants.

  • Daniel

    It’s not that I don’t think there shouldn’t be coverage there. But if you can’t cover the whole area then these are the areas where the fewest number of people are negatively impacted. I think the UWS should in fact have a higher density of coverage than downtown NYC since there are so many large apartment buildings, but I also do want them to reach my part of Brooklyn by 2017 and I’m at the edge of the phase II coverage area.

  • J

    OMG, DOT actually responded! Wow, maybe they’re finally getting out of their bunker mentality.

  • Drivin’ Here!

    I suggest we don’t jump in and put in CitiBike just yet. More studies are needed to determine feasibility and the possibility of alternatives.

    First, we need a FULL Environmental Impact study to ensure that CitiBike stations will have no affect on anything or anybody (physically or emotionally). We don’t want to move too fast into it like Downtown and Midtown. There have been tremendous increases there in traffic congestion not related to Uber, that can only be explained by the introduction of CitiBikes.

    Second, we need a safety study that can guarantee with certainty that there will be zero injuries related to CitiBikes (regardless of who may be at fault). Jumping right in puts everyone at risk.

    Third, we need to replace out the lost (free) parking spaces by adding new ones in Central Park (it’s not called “park” for nothing, ya know!).

    Since the UES & UWS are not all uniform throughout, and each street is unique in its own way with its own needs and concerns, the studies should come in phases of 10 blocks at a time. We should postpone the first phase – 60th St to 70th St. – til April 2016 (the end of summer this year just isn’t a good time to launch since biking is strictly seasonal – not all riders ride in winter).

    After the first phase is launched, the community boards should hold similar meetings like the ones held this spring. If no residents complain, we can expand to the next stage. If there are, however, complaints, a rollback or alternatives should be considered.

    Alternatives to CitiBike for the community to consider would be for the city to issue discounts on purchases at local bike shops, and occasional free rental giveaways from vendors like “Bike n Roll”.

  • datbeezy

    they worked for bloomberg.

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