Friday’s Headlines: ‘You Get a Citi Bike, And You Get a Citi Bike…’ Edition

The day was dominated by some pretty big news: Citi Bike will finally (well, over the next five years) expand, doubling its current coverage and adding 28,000 bikes. Everyone covered it, including Streetsblog, the Daily News (which had blamed Mayor de Blasio in 2017 in a memorable post), the Post, amNY, Bklyner, the Wall Street Journal, and even Endgadget, but not the Times (oddly).

Gothamist added one detail: “the majority” of the fleet would be e-bikes, a claim that is almost inconceivable, given that there are just 200 e-Citi Bikes in the 12,000-bike fleet right now.

Here’s the rest of the news:

  • They said it couldn’t be done, but Dave Colon (aka @GoodIdeaDave) broke down all of the incentives that the state and city are giving Amazon. (Gotham Gazette)
  • More cities are realizing that — news flash! — minimum parking requirements actually stymie growth and economic development in urban areas, because space wasted on parking could be put to better use. (Governing)
  • Did Andrew StatusCuomo just blow up a deal to build new tunnels under the Hudson — or did he just save it by cutting out Amtrak? (WSJ)
  • Congestion pricing is going to happen…er, likely will happen. Right? (New York Law Journal)
  • Here’s an idea: Blow up the Port Authority Bus Terminal! (City & State)
  • DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg raced from the Citi Bike press conference to City Hall to be grilled by the Council about that freak November snowstorm that ruined everything. (ABC7)
  • Meanwhile, former DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is trying to help pedestrians in India. Yes, that India. (Times of India, Pune Mirror)
  • Is the Staten Island Ferry safe from terrorists? Hmm, probably the city should look into that. (SI Advance)
  • In case you missed it (we did because the Daily News website is so incoherent), but Jillian Jorgensen had a good exclusive about how the city will roll out fire trucks with fewer blind spots — because you can’t achieve Vision Zero without vision. (NYDN)

Have a great weekend, folks. Don’t forget the Santa Ride — a family ride on Sunday in East Elmhurst with Ol’ St. Nick and organized by Friend of Streetsblog Claudia Corcino, founder of Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de New York. (Alert: Do not dress as Santa so the kids don’t get confused. You can be an elf.)

  • The WSJ article also said the ebike thing

    “The majority of the roughly 28,000 additional bikes planned during
    the coming years would be pedal-assist bikes, which have an electric
    motor that kicks in when the rider starts pedaling, Ms. Samponaro said.”

    This matches twitter rumors from last week.

    Also, note that Ms. Samponaro was at TransAlt before, so is very familiar with NYC and bicycling.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well, they can’t expect health insurers to pay for people to not get exercise. I suppose they’ll have to track who is using which type of bike.

  • Alec

    Any idea when we’ll get a look at an updated citibike coverage map? Come on Washington Heights!

  • Larry Littlefield

    While it might increase the number of two-wheeled vehicles on the roads, I can’t say I’m all that happy with motor vehicles rather than human vehicles accounting for most of the vehicles.

    If those in the expansion zone start motoring to Manhattan, those trying to dock regular Citibikes there may end up with a traffic and parking problem of their own, unless the number of docks there is expanded massively — in the face of substantial opposition I’m sure.

    Then there is the health benefit question. I suggested health as a big reason to support bicycle transportation, one reason that perhaps the health care sector should be funding it. But that connection goes away if a motor is doing most of the work.

    The only way to restore it would be an ability to adjust the amount of peddling effort required, and record the amount of effort expended, a sort of automatic fitbit that could be forwarded to a health insurer for subsidy payments.

    I’m afraid that mostly motor-driven Citibikes would be heading for the sweet spot exploited by the packaged food industry — stuff that appears to be healthy because it latches on the latest trend, but requires no “work” and thus provides no actual benefit.

  • Rider

    The pedal-assist mechanisms on the citibikes don’t deliver as much of a boost as you’d think. You still get exercise. If you stop pedaling, you’re not going anywhere. What they primarily do is make it much more comfortable to pedal up hills and ride in windy conditions. You also accelerate faster, which helps when sharing the road with cars. When I can get one I’m much more likely to pedal all the way to a distant destination. That’s more healthful than sitting in a motor vehicle.

  • redbike

    Agreed: electric-assist is just that — assist. Stop pedaling, and the assist stops too.

    Unknown, but knowable: are electric-assist CitiBikes attracting new riders or do they merely result in mode switching by existing users? IMHO the latter isn’t Bad.

    Currently, the total number of electric-assist bikes actually reliably available isn’t larger enough to conclude anything, but — again, IMHO — if the goal is more butts on bikes, the electric-assist bikes are a bigger game-changer than bike lanes.