Bike-Share Is Going to Be Huge at NYC Transit Hubs

Hubway bikes at Boston's South Station. The bike-share stations at Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be even larger than this one, and there will be three at each transit hub. Photo: Will Sherman

The Department of Transportation is currently going around to community boards and presenting preliminary maps of bike-share locations. While the map for the full service area isn’t finished yet, the details that have come out so far are pretty exciting.

One of the big questions we had about station siting concerned the bike-transit connection. Namely, how is our bike share system going to handle New York City’s biggest commuter hubs: Penn Station, Grand Central and the Port Authority Bus Terminal? Based on the preliminary presentation made to Manhattan Community Board 4 this week, the answer is that bike-share is going big.

At Penn Station and Port Authority, rather than build a single station big enough to meet the enormous demand, DOT and Alta Bicycle Share have decided to build three stations at each location, with around 50 or 60 docks at each. At Port Authority, the plan is for a total of 140 docks, according to CB 4 transportation committee co-chair Christine Berthet. At Penn Station, there will be 180 docks.

For a little perspective, Capital Bikeshare, currently the nation’s largest bike-share system, only has 23 docks in front of Washington D.C.’s Union Station, with the same number at a station a couple of blocks away. Boston’s North and South Stations only have a single nearby Hubway station each, with about 45 docks at both locations.

In other words, the most important sites in New York City’s bike-share system are, fittingly, super-sized. With the biggest transit system in the country, it’s only appropriate to give those riders the biggest bike-share stations for the last mile of their trip.

CB 4 Assistant District Manager Jenna Chrisphonte said that the bike-share stations will be placed so as not to impede pedestrian movement on the often-crowded sidewalks in Community Board 4, which represents West Midtown. “You couldn’t put it right in front of the subway entrance,” she said by way of example.

According to Berthet, nearly every station in the district is being placed on the street, rather than in the sidewalk, as the community board requested in February. The board is currently working on a resolution proposing some small revisions to the proposed map, including the removal of one station and the addition of others.

Chrisphonte said that the ability to quickly move stations around — a bike-share station can be installed or uninstalled in about an hour — will come in handy, especially around complex sites like the Port Authority or Penn Station. “We all know it’s not going to be perfect,” she said. “We just have to watch how commuters are using the space.”