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Eyes on the Street

EYES ON THE STREET: Citi Bike Comes to Jackson Heights

One of the city's famously diverse neighborhoods is diversifying its transportation options.

Jonah Schwarz|

A Citi Bike installation crew installing a new station in Jackson Heights.

One of the city's famously diverse neighborhoods is diversifying its transportation options.

Citi Bike finally arrived in Jackson Heights in recent weeks — 10 years after bike-share’s launch in Manhattan and four years since officials announced the expansion plans. 

The 80 new bike-share stations bring a new transportation option to a neighborhood where the subway is a bus ride or long walk away from many people’s homes. The stations, mostly small-sized with space for around 20 bikes, will serve the 160,000 people who live north of Roosevelt Avenue and south of LaGuardia Airport.

For New Yorkers who live north of Northern Boulevard, a walk to the closest subway can take 20 minutes, while a bus ride can take 15 minutes or longer. Bike-share’s introduction to the neighborhood will make getting around easier, residents said.

“I realized they extended the stations out here, and it's very convenient. It's much faster,” said Carlos Martinez, an independent contractor who lives in an area and has started biking to work since bike-share showed up. 

Over 60 percent of Jackson Heights households take public transit to get around. Locals said they welcome another option.

“I haven't used Citibike before, but now that they are close by, I will definitely try them out,” local high schooler Nema Gurung told Streetsblog on Tuesday as she helped her four-year-old nephew mount a docked bike so he could pretend to ride and ring the bell.

Gurung, who goes to school in Manhattan, said she welcomed the opportunity to bike there and back now that they both have Citi Bike.

Ocean Rashed, a 23-year-old college student and lifetime resident of Jackson Heights, is seen using a Citibike on 34th Ave.Jonah Schwarz

Five of the planned new bike-share stations will be along the 1.3-mile 34th Avenue “open street,” where the city has banned most car traffic since May 2020.

As with other Citi Bike expansion areas, Jackson Heights will not be immune from growing pains like rebalancing issues in which there are too few or too many bikes in certain areas, cutting off access to the system. 

The Citi Bike network will not only benefit area residents, but also provide another option for workers and travelers to LaGuardia Airport. New docks will only be about a 7-minute walk from the airport — compared to a 20-minute walk to LGA from the subway. 

Stations East of the BQE are part of the expansions, and the stations shown in gray have yet to be installed.Jonah Shcwarz

At least one resident has gone so far as to abandon his personal bike altogether. Dario Bravo opted to purchase a Citi Bike membership last week after his personal bike broke, he said.

“Because now Citi Bike is in Jackson Heights, I just got the membership last week instead of replacing my bike. It's now so convenient,” said Bravo, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood who often bikes to his job in lower Manhattan.

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