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Rodriguez: Let’s Lock Down a Citi Bike Expansion Deal ASAP

3:36 PM EDT on June 21, 2017

Ydanis Rodriguez has most of the City Council behind his campaign to move forward with a Citi Bike expansion. Photo: David Meyer

City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez is getting impatient. With the current phase of bike-share expansion set to wrap later this year, he's calling on City Hall and Citi Bike operator Motivate to seal the deal on a plan to bring bike-share to many more neighborhoods.

Bike-share is slated to reach more of western Queens, central Brooklyn, and Manhattan later this summer. But there are no official expansion plans after that, leaving out many neighborhoods where bike-share would generate heavy use.

The city and Motivate are reportedly in talks to expand the system by 6,000 bikes -- or 50 percent -- with 4,000 of those going outside the current service area. The broad strokes of the deal call for Motivate to expand without public funds; in return, DOT would eliminate some fees it currently charges the company and grant a measure of exclusivity preventing other bike-share companies from setting up shop.

The contract would also give Motivate more flexibility in pricing, which could enable -- but not necessarily mandate -- reduced fees for lower income users.

The full details haven't been made public, and the fact that negotiations are in progress suggests that the contours of the deal can still change. But a majority of the City Council wants to see some action fast.

A letter from Rodriguez urging DOT to "sign the deal," calling it "too good... to pass up" [PDF], now has 26 other council members as signatories.

Flanked by supporters from Transportation Alternatives, Bike New York, and StreetsPAC on the steps of City Hall this morning, Rodriguez said the city should expedite an expansion deal.

"After a successful four years of operation, Citi Bike has proven itself in New York City," he said. "[Citi Bike] is not available to most of our lower-income communities, and that needs to change."

During this spring's budget negotiations, City Council leadership called on Mayor de Blasio to put $12 million in city funds behind the next phase of bike-share expansion. The funding did not make it into the final budget, even though the cost of bike-share expansion is much lower than what City Hall has spent on ferry service that serves fewer people.

In a few months, TransAlt volunteers have gathered more than 5,500 signatures from residents who want bike-share to expand to their neighborhoods. Council members representing neighborhoods outside the current service area are confident that bike-share would fill a need in their districts.

"With the foot traffic that we have in the South Bronx, with the proximity that have to Manhattan, we need Citi Bike in the South Bronx," said Council Member Rafael Salamanca.

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