BREAKING: Citi Bike Expansion Revealed — And It’s a Slow Rollout

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg showed off the new 2023 map for Citi Bike on Tuesday in the Bronx. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg showed off the new 2023 map for Citi Bike on Tuesday in the Bronx. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Citi Bike will finally begin its long-awaited expansion into the Bronx and upper Manhattan later this year, but a broader, deeper expansion into Brooklyn and long-suffering Queens will take another four years.

City — and “Citi” — officials will gather in the Bronx on Tuesday morning to herald the expansion of the Citi Bike zone, but Streetsblog obtained a truncated preview that reveals a few choice details from the Lyft-owned company:

  • New stations will start showing up quickly in Ridgewood, Queens as part of an existing expansion of Citi Bike in the so-called L-train corridor of Williamsburg and Bushwick.
  • Next, Citi Bike will expand into the South Bronx — how “south” remains unclear — and Upper Manhattan. Currently, the Citi Bike zone only extends as far north as 130th Street, leaving City College, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights cut off. A preliminary press release said that new stations in the South Bronx the remainder of Manhattan will be installed starting next year — after consultations with community boards.
  • The final phase of the expansion — from 2020 through 2023 — will include more neighborhoods, including:
    • In the Bronx: Mott Haven, Melrose, Port Morris, Highbridge, Claremont, Morrisania, Longwood, Concourse and Mt. Eden.
    • In Queens: Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona.
    • In Brooklyn: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, East Flatbush, Sunset Park, the area south of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington.
Citi Bike expansion zone, 2019-2023.
Citi Bike expansion zone, 2019-2023.

The map of the expansion zone (left) follows a promise that Citi Bike officials made last year to double the bike share system’s footprint, and triple its fleet size to 40,000 bikes, by 2023, so Tuesday’s announcement appears to be on schedule.

Staten Island will not get Citi Bike. Earlier this year, the city announced it would expand its existing pilot program of dockless bike share provided by Lime and the Uber-owned Jump to the entire island.

Tuesday’s announcement will be greeted with relief across a wide swath of the city that has been denied Citi Bike, which began in 2013, and has been slow to expand beyond Manhattan and gentrified stretches of Brooklyn. The Citi Bike zone reflected a decision — some call it the original sin of Citi Bike — by the Bloomberg administration to keep public money out of the privately run bike share system, making it the only form of mass public transit that does not get public subsidies.

That strategy was continued by the de Blasio administration, which has heavily invested in a ferry system that serves far fewer users than Citi Bike — with its 17.6 million rides last year from its 150,000 annual members and many thousands of tourists.

As a result, some of the neighborhoods on the list that will be released on Tuesday will have waited 10 years from the beginning of the bike share system to become part of the Citi Bike zone. And other neighborhoods, such as Forest Hills and Rego Park in Queens, and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, for example, won’t get Citi Bike until the next mayor is preparing for his or her re-election runs.

“We clearly aren’t happy that Queens Boulevard has this amazing bike lane, but Rego Park and Forest Hills aren’t getting any bike share,” said one Queens cycling activist. “That’s insane.”

Council Member Justin Brannan of Bay Ridge will no doubt be upset as he reads this. Earlier on Monday, he tweeted his disappointment that Citi Bike continues to serve “areas that already have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to transit options.” He suggested that the city strip Lyft of its monopoly zone to allow competition from other bike share systems, such as Lime, Jump and others.

But Citi Bike supporters — including city officials — have said that a single contiguous system is the only way for Citi Bike to make a profit and keep expanding. Last week, former Bloomberg official Jon Orcutt told Streetsblog that one expanding map is the way to go. “Building little pods of isolated bike share is a recipe for failure,” he said.

That comment came as Citi Bike was under fire last week from advocates for two groups mostly cut out of Citi Bike: the poor and those who live in transit deserts. New York Communities for Change — formerly ACORN — argued that the public bike share system needed to expand into some of the very neighborhoods that will be announced on Tuesday.

That said, the group was also pushing for a wider expansion that would have left some gaps in coverage.

  • Jim Burke

    ?Terrible news @CitiBikeNYC. This is just way too slow. Queens has already waited since 2013. We finally got a tiny sliver that’s useless for 98% of the borough and now you are saying we have to wait more years for a tiny bit more of Queens for the final phase. Very disappointed. What’s the issue?

    I thought Lyft had more money than god. Anyway it’s not like the Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst lack the density for profitability. I really don’t understand. Can we find out what is going on? I’m a very unhappy member and I joined June of 2013. Also what’s the deal with the ped assists? No mention?

    It’s ridiculous we are drowning in cars, choking on their exhaust, buses crawl and we aren’t building real protected bike lanes, or secure bike parking. We are not expanding our side walks or our summer streets. Our pedestrian plazas and bike share plans creep along like our buses. We are no longer a city that doesn’t sleep – we are in fact comatose. Cities all over the world are leaving us in the dust. We are desperate for new leadership.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Let’s hope we get to keep Universal Pre-K, as cost rise. The plan by the PTB is to kill it.

    As for Citibike, if they don’t have the resources to expand faster, they can always lean on CB opponents as a crutch. A few years of review.

  • I feel you man. Not only all the things you mentioned, but the streets we do have are in terrible shape – the worst shape since before Bloomberg took office. They don’t repaint lines, the streets are broken and full of garbage in many areas. BdB has been on autopilot for a long time and Polly Trottenberg is no world beater.
    After going to London last month, with its zillions of miles of protected bus and bike lanes and overall amazing bus system, it’s hard to face NYC’s lame systems.

  • Joe Mama

    Those are good questions Jim, allow me to add a few more: why do we need a city-enforced monopoly to operate a bike share, why do we tax development and income rather than land values and pollution, why was the transit system intentionally bankrupted through low fares over decades, why is parking free in huge swaths of the city, why do we have highways criss-crossing through previously dense mixed use neighborhoods all the way out to and through Long Island, why is the western side of the Hudson in an entirely different state, why does anyone who wants to do anything even marginally inconsistent with fifty year old zoning laws have to fight tooth and nail with bureaucrats and local pols and pay off community groups before building?

    The answers to all those questions are, unfortunately, remarkably similar: centuries of bad incentives and bad institutions.

  • BronxEE2000

    Well this sucks. I’d much rather keep CitiBike out of the Bronx. Get ready for even more gentrification folks.

  • kevd

    So in 4 more years there will still be no CitiBike in Brooklyn’s densest Zip Code, despite being just south of the existing service area and neighboring Brooklyn’s biggest cycling loop.

  • s

    If we called Citi Bike a ferry, maybe we could get Mayor de Blasio to lavish hundreds of millions of dollars on it and roll it out really quickly.

  • kevd

    It’s much more than a tiny bit of queens that is getting this expansion.
    Yes queens is enormous, but the coverage area in Queens looks like it will be tripling and does include Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona and Sunnyside.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Ah yes, the rich people moving into a neighborhood because like 5% of them may occasionally ride a shared bike service. Give me a break.

  • qrt145

    What is the PTB? Google says pulmonary tuberculosis…

  • Jacob

    Can we see the maps?

  • Daphna

    Direct your anger at the lack of pedal assist at lawmakers and elected officials not at Lyft for Citibike. My bet is Citibike would choose to add a lot of pedal assist if there were no regulations to stop them from doing so.
    Also, the lack of expansion is more the fault of lawmakers and elected officials rather than the company running Citibike. City elected deny any public money for Citibike and insist Citibke seek Community Board approval for dock sites which is costly in terms of the personnel that must be devoted to the outreach. And by requiring Citibike to meet repeatedly with community boards, it slows down the expansion.

  • Jim Burke

    Bike share is public transportation and should be treated as such and I agree that rests with the electeds. For dock placement I would skip the CBs and daylight every corner with Citibike docks and bike corrals which would markedly increase visibility for all users making our streets immediately safer for everyone.

    Ped assists are legal. Citibike pulled their ped assists a few months ago due to a design flaw in their brakes. I wanted to know if we have an update on that.

  • Jim Burke

    Kevin I agree but we have already waited years and apart from uber expensive LIC and a piece of Astoria we don’t have bike share in Queens. And it we are not getting it now but it’s pencilled in three years from now. I was really hoping for immediate bold expansion not slow incremental steps that have so many opportunities for disruption.

  • BronxEE2000

    You don’t think landlords would raise rent just because there’s a CItiBike dock outside their buildings? Because I can see that easily. The Bronx is already expensive as is (way too much if you ask me).

  • Jim Burke
  • Dan
  • kevd

    I’m still waiting in Brooklyn, Jim. We’re also only penciled in for 3 years from now. Fast expansion would clearly be better for both of us.

  • Jacob

    I saw that, but it doesn’t seem to reflect any of the nuance of the plan. The article says that South Bronx & Upper Manhattan will be done next year (2020), but the map just says:
    Light blue = existing
    Red = in progress
    Dark blue = done sometime in the next 4 years!

  • Jacob

    on the margin, maybe, but if you actually want to improve housing affordability, you need to massively increase housing production citywide, and also increase rent subsidies for poor residents.

  • qrt145

    I’m sure Streetsblog will soon have more detailed coverage of the official announcement.

  • Matthew

    I think landlords have already raised rent because of the availability of free parking outside, so it won’t really matter if there is a bikeshare taking away a parking space.

  • Joe R.

    End the real estate speculation as well. That’s one reason prices have risen way faster than inflation. Along those lines I propose a 90% tax on any real estate capital gains which exceed the rate of inflation. For example, my mom’s house was bought for $52K in 1978. Going by the CPI it should be worth $205K now if the price had kept up with inflation. Instead, it might sell for $750K. Under my proposal there would be a 90% tax on the difference between $750K and $205K. Housing costs will return to Earth once we stop getting some people to stop treat housing as an investment, as opposed to a place to live. It should only be an investment in the sense that when you sell it, the price will have kept pace with inflation.

    I’m not keen on rent subsidies because the city is effectively paying more to house poor people that way than just building the housing itself, and operating that housing at cost. It’s much the same argument as we use for single payer. The government can pay insurance companies who take a 20% profit before paying medical providers, or they can save 20% by paying those medical providers directly. Landlords are essentially middle men. They should be out of the picture if NYC subsidizes housing.

  • Joe R.

    The other design flaw was the need to manually swap batteries, instead of having charging stations at the docks. The extra labor costs for that are doubtless part of the reason Citibike charges more to rent e-bikes. This flaw should be fixed before they roll out the e-bikes again.

  • Joe R.

    It’s all areas that are mostly already near subways. The areas that need them the most, namely those not near subways, aren’t even on the Phase 3 map. Basically, we’re giving people who already have a plethora of options yet another one, while ignoring those for whom the only choices now are crappy bus service, driving, Uber, or your own bike.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Powers That Be.

  • qrt145

    But remember bikeshare stations actually increase the number of parking spots! 🙂

  • kevd

    Bike share (absent city subsidy) does seem to require a certain level of population density.
    And population density does tend to correlate pretty closely with subway proximity.
    As long as we are forcing motivate to make money, we probably will only be seeing CitiBike in dense, contiguous areas.

  • qrt145

    Here’s the press release: https://www.citibikenyc.com/blog/major-citi-bike-expansion-map-revealed

    The map is the same, but the text confirms that Upper Manhattan and South Bronx are scheduled for 2020. There doesn’t seem to be a detailed timeline for the rest. Most of the text are quotes from nearly every politician in NY…

    An interesting detail is the introduction of a handcycle pilot.

  • GuestBx

    The population density argument doesn’t hold up in this case. There are a lot of communities in NYC that have high population densities yet are located more than one mile from a subway station.

    Even Staten Island is just short of the density of Washington D.C.

    The contiguous area arguement is the most solid. Only enough funds to expand so far.

  • GuestBx

    That’s more than the South Bronx, that’s almost the entirety of the West Bronx (cut offs are Mosholu Pkwy in the north, Irwin Ave in the northwest, and the Bronx River in the east minus industrial Hunts Point).

    The Bronx will be the borough with the second best coverage after Manhattan once this rollout is complete.

  • kevd

    Does DC’s bike share have to pay for itself?
    If so I think thats a fair point.

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