Who is Delaying Citi Bike’s Expansion into Ridgewood, Maspeth?

Dock worker Bob Holden.
Dock worker Bob Holden.

Someone is slowing Citi Bike’s roll.

Back in February, the Department of Transportation presented proposed locations for new Citi Bike docking station in Ridgewood and Maspeth, Queens — stations that were supposed to be installed already. But local Council Member Bob Holden demanded that no parking spaces be repurposed for Citi Bike, and then the stations were indefinitely delayed, two sources (and one Assembly member-elect, below) told Streetsblog.

“Holden did his whole song and dance [about the parking], the DOT nonetheless came out and said, ‘We’re moving forward.’ But City Hall stopped it,” said one source.

The two sources, who requested anonymity, say the delay is a favor to Holden, a right-leaning Democrat who is a supporter of former Republican Mayor Adams’s public safety agenda. (Neither Holden nor Citi Bike nor DOT nor City Hall responded to repeated requests over many days for comment. After initial publication of this story online, a City Hall spokesperson emailed this statement: “Mayor Adams’s $9000-million investment in the NYC Streets Plan is evidence of this administration’s unwavering commitment to street safety and offering New Yorkers a range of transportation options. We’re going to continue working to identify the best way to deliver that for every community across the city.”)

Not everyone agrees that City Hall stopped Citi Bike to help a City Council member. Local florist Tony Nunziato (the man in the background of the picture in the top left in the tweet above, who was also the Queens co-chair of former President Trump’s 2016 campaign and is currently head of the Juniper Park Civic Association) told Streetsblog that DOT is to blame for stalling the installation of Citi Bike. He also claimed he wants bikes in the neighborhood, though it is a matter of public record that the civic association sought to reduce the number of Citi Bike docks on the street. Nunziato is a Holden supporter.

Another Maspeth source who has been watching the drama unfold disputed Nunziato’s take, saying that groups like Juniper Park Civic Association “don’t even understand how bikeshare works or why it would be beneficial.”

“They move around in huge vehicles,” this person added. “DOT has the plan, they already commented on the ridiculous [no parking spaces] counterproposal; it’s time to do it already.” A third source: “Juniper Park Civic says it wants Citi Bike — as long as it’s not on the sidewalk. These people are not honest negotiators.”

Whatever is going on, Holden and City Hall have been cozy of late:

And the Council member and the mayor share frustration with bail reform, as the Council member confirmed this week. And last month, Holden was quoted in a city press release praising an Adams administration guide for homeowners. He is also an inconsistent supporter of cycling:

And his constituents are getting impatient:

The stations were supposed to be installed this summer, but before any Citi Bike dock can be installed, the city sends a notice to every business owner in the area to be improved — a snail mail letter or phone call to say that the station will be installed after four weeks. But none of those notifications have gone out, said a source, which means that Ridgewood and Maspeth won’t be getting Citi Bike until mid-September at the earliest — our roughly four weeks after the stations begin showing up as grey dots on the Citi Bike app (there are no gray dots in the above area currently).

Citi Bike QCB5 plan
The DOT plan from February. Why have these stations not been activated yet? Photo: DOT (Click the map to enlarge)

Worse, the delay in Ridgewood and Maspeth threaten cascading delays down the line. Citi Bike could have installed docks in other neighborhoods that are lacking them — Crown Heights, for example, or in parts of the Bronx — but the process to expand into those areas had not moved far enough along for business notifications; that process was supposed to follow Ridgewood and Maspeth, which should have been done by now, another source said.

“DOT has to give the green light, but City Hall has put up a block,” said a source. “It sets a weird precedent for City Hall to get involved and some supporters of Citi Bike think it sets a bad precedent because other pro-car council members will throw a fit like Holden and get a delay.”

The idea that City Hall would block Citi Bike’s expansion is certainly counter to Mayor Adams’s public pronouncements about the bike-share system. He uses the system himself and said during his successful campaign that he wanted to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize Citi Bike so it could expand faster.

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