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DOT’s Citi Bike Expansion Squeezes Bronx, Manhattan Pedestrians

12:01 AM EST on February 14, 2020

The draft plan for the Bronx puts 64 percent of the Citi Bike docks on the sidewalk (indicated by triangles). Photo: DOT

Citi Bike's long-awaited expansion to Upper Manhattan and the Bronx is a smaller program that is swiping space from pedestrians instead of drivers.

Maps released by the Department of Transportation reveal that the vast majority — in some neighborhoods all — of the docking stations for the new blue bikes will be placed on sidewalks instead of in roadside spaces typically occupied by the cars of freeloading drivers. (All maps are here.)

"There's definitely has been an emphasis to put more docks on sidewalks," said Erwin Figueroa of Transportation Alternatives, who attended the DOT's recent presentation to the South Bronx's Community Board 1. "It's important that dock placement is done in an equitable way, and that includes placing docks [in the street], which benefits both cyclists and pedestrians. Why crowd the sidewalks when we can fit a dozen Citi Bikes in a parking space? That's a much better use of curbside real estate than free car storage, especially in a part of the city where only a tiny share of households even own a car."

The draft maps — and a spokesman for Citi Bike made sure to emphasize that the maps are preliminary — make it clear that the priority is on swiping space from pedestrians — and not just in the Bronx. The DOT has also presented initial maps for expansion zones for upper Manhattan. Throughout the expansion zone, fewer than 25 percent of households have access to a car, according to city statistics, which bolster the argument that space for bikes should be taken away from drivers.

Here's what the maps show:

The expansion zone in Manhattan's CB10 includes lots of bikes on the sidewalk (triangles). Photo: DOT
The expansion zone in Manhattan's CB10 includes lots of bikes on the sidewalk (triangles). Photo: DOT
    • Bronx Community Board 1
      • Population, 91,000
      • 55 total docks (.6 docks per 1,000 residents*)
      • 35 docks on the sidewalk (64 percent)
    • Manhattan CB 9
      • Population 110,000
      • 26 new docks joining 13 existing docks (.35 docks per 1,000 residents*)
      • 23 of the new docks (88 percent) and 10 of the existing docks (77 percent) are on the sidewalk
      • 85 percent of the total docks are on the sidewalk.
    • Manhattan CB10
      • Population, 115,000
      • 24 new docks joining 17 existing docks (.36 docks per 1,000 residents*)
      • 23 of the new docks (96 percent) and 17 of the existing docks (100 percent) are on the sidewalk
      • 97.5 percent of the total docks are on the sidewalk.
    • Manhattan CB11
      • Population, 120,000
      • 6 new docks joining 30 existing docks (.3 docks per 1,000 residents*)
      • 6 of the new docks (100 percent) and 21 of the existing docks (70 percent) are on the sidewalk
      • 78 percent of the total docks are on the sidewalk

For comparison, neighborhoods that got Citi Bike earlier have more docks and fewer of them on the sidewalk. For example:

    • Brooklyn CB 6
      • Population, 104,000
      • 72 docks (.69 docks per 1,000 residents)
      • 23 docks on sidewalks or parkland (32 percent)

In addition, fewer Manhattan stations are on sidewalks. On the Upper West Side, for example, 19.5 percent of the docks are on sidewalks or next to parks. On the Upper East Side, 23 percent are on the sidewalk or in parks.

"Clearly, there is a directive to the planners to take as little parking as possible" in the new rollout, said Jon Orcutt of Bike New York — and the DOT official who was involved in the initial introduction of Citi Bike under the Bloomberg administration. "But there are places where there is space on the sidewalks, and if you’re a DOT planner, your job is to get the stations down in workable pattern in time for whenever the planned roll-out is.

"When I was working on this, the Manhattan community boards said, 'Stations in the street! Don’t touch our sidewalks,' and the Brooklyn community boards said, 'Stations on sidewalks! Don’t touch our parking!'" Orcutt added.

DOT said it plans to install Citi Bike stations in Manhattan CBs 9, 10, and 11 and Bronx CB 1 this spring.  Manhattan's CB 12 will follow in the summer. The agency has not issued a draft map for the northernmost stretch of Manhattan.

The DOT declined to comment about the reason that so many stations are currently sited on the sidewalk, though the maps were made with community input. We will update this story if the agency gets back to us.

In the end, the expansion of Citi Bike is a source of continuing irony, said on Bronx activist.

"For years, people were saying, 'When will you bring Citi Bike to the Bronx,' and the minute they came here, some people were screaming that they don't want it!" said Maria Torres, executive director of The Point Community Development Corporation in Hunts Point, which will not get Citi Bike for years. "There are people screaming at the DOT no matter what they do: 'Don't take our parking spaces! Don't take our sidewalk space.' They're damned if they do, damned if they don't."

* It is unclear how many bikes per resident will exist in these zones because dock sizes are not available.

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