City Hall and Motivate Agree to Beef Up Citi Bike During the L Train Shutdown

Citi Bike will add 1,250 bicycles and 2,500 docking points to the busiest parts of its existing service area starting next spring.

During the L train shutdown, Citi Bike will provide "valet service" at more stations, expanding capacity beyond the number of docking points. Photo: Citi Bike
During the L train shutdown, Citi Bike will provide "valet service" at more stations, expanding capacity beyond the number of docking points. Photo: Citi Bike

Citi Bike will add 1,250 bicycles and 2,500 docking points to the busiest parts of its existing service area starting next spring, the de Blasio administration announced today. The extra capacity will help absorb a surge in demand when the western portion of the L train goes down for repairs.

The expansion will also include Citi Bike’s first electric-assist bicycles, 1,000 of which will be available exclusively at four stations — two in Williamsburg and two in Lower Manhattan. The e-bikes are specifically intended to help people handle the incline on the Williamsburg Bridge (Citi Bike operator Motivate calls it “Shuttle Service”). City Hall says these e-bikes are a temporary addition to the fleet available only for the duration of the L train rehab, which is expected to last 15 months.

The extra docking capacity will be concentrated in northern Brooklyn and Manhattan between Canal Street and 59th Street, the area most heavily affected by the loss of the L train west of Bedford Avenue. In addition, Citi Bike will send out several more valet crews to receive bikes from people at the end of their trips, adding capacity beyond the limits of docking stations at busy rush hour locations.

Before the new stations arrive, DOT will conduct a round of outreach with local community boards in the affected areas. Needless to say, these are all neighborhoods where sidewalk space is at a premium and bike-share stations in the curb lane make the most sense.

With each Citi Bike averaging about six trips per day during warmer months, the addition of more than 2,000 bikes for the L train shutdown could handle 10,000 or more daily trips (the limited e-bike origins and destinations may dampen trips-per-bike). Bus service will carry the lion’s share of the 80,000 or so L train riders expected to divert to surface travel instead of other subways, but Citi Bike will be a significant part of the mix, relieving pressure on the shuttle buses operating between Williamsburg and Manhattan.

City Hall’s announcement mentions no public subsidy for this bike-share expansion, and Streetsblog has a request in to confirm that Motivate is shouldering the costs.

As encouraging as it is to see the de Blasio administration and Motivate reach a deal on infill expansion for bike-share, it also raises the question: Why won’t the mayor push for a Citi Bike expansion beyond the borders of the current service zone?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    If e-bikes are helpful for the Williamsburg Bridge incline during the shutdown… why wouldn’t they be helpful after the shutdown? Will the bridge be flatter in 2021?

  • My guess is that Motivate is planning to move these bikes to a hillier city after the L train shutdown is over, or disperse them throughout the service area here instead of limiting them to four stations.

  • It’s also a safe way to experiment with e-bikes and get the city used to them in a controlled way – you will only be able to only take them from a defined point A to a defined point B – before a larger rollout, should that be in the cards eventually.

    As with dockless bikes, this seems to be part of the DOT strategy: Use a small pilot project to test the waters for something bigger. Seems smart in this case.

  • Rick Atson

    I agree with the Pedal assist but I live In Greenpoint and I currently take a Bus from Nassau ave to the L train on Bedford. The bikes will not be by the train they will be positioned at bottom of the bridge which is not easy to get to..

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Glorious!

    The pedal assist bikes at 4 stations are a gateway drug to expanding beyond.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “As encouraging as it is to see the de Blasio administration and Motivate reach a deal on infill expansion for bike-share, it also raises the question: Why won’t the mayor push for a Citi Bike expansion beyond the borders of the current service zone?”

    Community Boards. The expansion seems to be by CB, with months or years of “process” leading to a District-wide expansion. If the city wanted, it could allow Citibike to expand little by little instead, as requested by Citibike or locals?

    For example, the last Citibike station on the west side of Prospect Park is at the Community District 6 border along Prospect Park. Why not allow Citibike to expand down the extra wide sidewalks along Prospect Park West, and elsewhere in Windsor Terrace where the existing streetscape provides opportunities?

    For example, on Windsor Place where is an extra wide sidewalk next to the subway stair and Our Lady’s Field. There is a parking space already removed for daylighting at Windsor and 10th. The sidewalk next to the Key Food/Walgreens at 11th and Prospect has lots of capacity and little use. And there is room further down Prospect near the Fort Hamilton Parkway subway stop. Then there is the beer garden on the other side of the highway. Etc. etc.

  • The e-bike stations are going to be huge… 1,000 bikes for four stations means they’ll need capacity for ~500 bikes per station to deal with peak hour flows.

  • mykl66

    I thought e-bikes were still illegal.?????

  • AMH

    How/why will they limit them to four stations? Will they be incompatible with the normal docks?

  • com63

    Can’t wait to see a 500 dock citibike rack!

  • com63

    I bet these will consistently be the quickest way across the East River during the shutdown.

  • com63

    Citibike should really refer to the “docks” as “bike parking spaces” as in “we will be adding 2,000 parking spaces in the new zone”. “We are replacing two car parking spaces with 16 bike parking spaces”.

  • ohhleary

    It’s bordering on downright outrageous that there’s absolutely no talk of expanding the service area into Bushwick. For me, having Citibike nearby would cut my total commute by nearly a third, allowing me to hop a bike for a 10-minute ride to the J/M at Flushing (otherwise, it’s a 25-minute walk or 33-minute subway ride on the L and M with wait time). The fact that the city is unwilling to cut my commute by 15-25 minutes during the shutdown out of fear of losing a handful of parking spaces is practically transportation planning malpractice.

  • pyh576

    They will probably be staffed with valets and not be 500 dock stations.

  • Altered Beast ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    citibike has a real chance to take transform the city and it’s denizens if they can get a toehold of this L shutdown. Imagine if they expanded their footprint to triple it’s size during the next 2 years. this could change the way we commute even after the L comes back up. Don’t fuck it up, whoever is buying citibike.

  • thomas040

    I think that’s WHY they are buying citibike. It’s cheap to buy citibike now while their customer base is low. It’s also expected (with the right investment) to possibly become as ubiquitous as Uber’s on the street.

    Whomever buys Citibike with the right vision behind it, can wind up being in control of 50% of transportation in New York in less than a decade.

  • qrt145

    They could implement it in software: have the docks at all other stations refuse to accept these bikes. And then probably add stickers on the bikes and signs at the allowed stations explaining.

  • Why limit e-bikes to 4 stations?

    Why not add citibike to other stations down the L? Why doesnt Canarsie deserve Citibike?

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