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Posts from the Bike Sharing Category

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The Bike-Share Map NYC Should Be Aiming For

bike-share-map-2009

Covering every corner of NYC with bike-share stations may not pencil out, but this service area covering dense, walkable neighborhoods should be very achievable. Map: DCP [PDF]

The campaign for a more expansive bike-share network is on. Earlier this week, the City Council held a hearing on expanding bike-share citywide. And today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and Staten Island Borough President James Oddo penned a piece in the Daily News asking for bike-share in their boroughs.

It’s great to see all this clamor for bike-share from the city’s political class. But the goal of providing good bike-share service to many more New Yorkers would be better served by adopting a more specific framework than five-borough bike-share, which would be expensive to build out and difficult to operate.

Somewhere between blanketing the whole city with bike-share stations and letting the system stagnate at the current plan for 12,000 bikes arranged in central neighborhoods, there’s a sweet spot — building a system in all compact, walkable neighborhoods where bike-share will be well-used.

At the City Council hearing, NACTO Bike Share Program Director Kate Fillin-Yeh said a smart goal would be the above service area, covering neighborhoods with at least 30,000 residents per square mile. That’s the population density at which bike-share systems are “likely to be heavily used, a real transportation option, and profitable,” she said [PDF].

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What Will It Take to Bring Bike-Share to Every Borough?

City Council members want bike-share to expand into their neighborhoods in a five-borough network. Officials at DOT and bike-share operator Motivate share that vision, but they said at a hearing today that it won’t come cheap.

Citi Bike's planned expansions won't make it to the poorest parts of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Upper Manhattan. Image: Citi Bike

Citi Bike’s planned expansions won’t make it to most of Queens, Brooklyn, or the Bronx. Image: Citi Bike

After a rough start, Citi Bike’s recent success has prompted a growing number of elected officials to call for expanding the bike-share network to more neighborhoods and to lower-income New Yorkers.

The current phase of expansion is set to wrap up next year, extending the service area to Harlem, Astoria, and Crown Heights. Beyond 2017, the growth of the system is uncertain.

But transportation committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez wants bike-share stations in every community board in the city by 2020. “It is imperative that we turn Citi Bike into a public good, a resource for our lowest-income communities, an opportunity for growth and human capital development,” he said.

That’s no small task: The capital cost of adding one bike to the system is $6,000 (including the dock and other hardware), and Motivate says installing stations in every community board in the city would require 70,000 to 80,000 bikes. So blanketing the city with bike-share would cost more than $400 million.

So far, Citi Bike has launched and expanded using sponsorship revenue, member fees, and other private sources — not public funds. That will probably have to change to bring bike-share beyond the 2017 expansion zone. Both DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Motivate CEO Jay Walder said today that public funding would likely be necessary to make citywide bike-share a reality.

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Envisioning a More Equitable Future for NYC’s Burgeoning Bike-Share

Speakers at this morning's panel on bike-share equity. From left: TA Executive Director Paul Steely White, Pratt Center Policy Director Elena Conte, Bed-Stuy Restoration Executive Vice President Tracey Capers, and City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: David Meyer

From left: TA Executive Director Paul Steely White, Pratt Center Policy Director Elena Conte, Bed-Stuy Restoration Executive Vice President Tracey Capers, and City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: David Meyer

After a rough start, Citi Bike is on a roll. Recent service improvements and expansions have turned around enrollment numbers and led to countless record-setting days for NYC bike-share ridership. But while the service has become a viable and successful new way to get around, bike-share has yet to reach most of the city’s low income neighborhoods and communities of color.

That can change, according to participants at an NYU Rudin Center panel yesterday on bike-share equity, but only if residents of those communities see bike-share as intended for them. Doing that means providing low-cost enrollment fees, enabling local residents to take charge of efforts to promote bike-share specifically and cycling in general, and expanding the Citi Bike network to the city’s more peripheral and transit-poor neighborhoods.

Even Citi Bike's planned expansions won't make it to the poorest parts of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Upper Manhattan. Image: Citi Bike

The next planned phase of Citi Bike expansion won’t make it to the poorer parts of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Upper Manhattan. Map: Citi Bike

Station density is the hallmark of an effective bike-sharing system, which means the network should be contiguous with stations spaced close together. But for Citi Bike that also means its limited resources were first deployed in the most affluent parts of the city, and for the most part the network has yet to reach poorer neighborhoods.

“The planning of the network starts in the Central Business District and emanates out from there,” said Pratt Center Policy Director Elena Conte. “The other thing that starts in the Central Business District of Manhattan and emanates out from there… is escalating real estate prices.”

Conte said Citi Bike’s association with gentrification — along with the way the service is branded, marketed, and priced — turns lower-income New Yorkers off the service. “I think the perception of Citi Bike in a lot of communities is that there’s a ‘tell, don’t show’ about how it’s good for you,” she said. “You look at the bikes, they have a corporate logo. You look at who’s on the bikes, they don’t necessarily look like you.”

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the few predominantly black neighborhoods with bike-share stations until this year’s expansion into Harlem, the Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation has worked to promote the service for NYCHA residents, women, and people of color by organizing community rides, for instance.

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5 Highlights From Last Night’s Bike-Share vs. Parking Meeting

A dense network of stations is what makes bike-share work so well in these Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Last night’s Brooklyn Community Board 6 bike-share forum lacked the fireworks of previous meetings — no physical threats this time. While the tone was civil, the demands from the anti-bike-share crowd weren’t exactly reasonable.

So far, Citi Bike has proven incredibly popular in CB 6, with some stations getting as much as seven rides per dock each day. That’s a lot more activity than the average free car parking spot ever sees.

Opponents said they would be fine with the bike-share stations if they didn’t occupy curb space that previously served as free car storage. They suggested the docks be moved onto sidewalks and that the station density be cut in half. But sidewalks in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens don’t have room for bike-share stations, and reducing station density would ruin the usefulness of the bike-share system. Bike-share only works well when you don’t have to walk more than a couple of minutes to reach a station.

With the room at capacity, Council Member Brad Lander live streamed the meeting for people stuck outside. The entire one-hour, 45-minute video (which amazingly does not capture the entire meeting) is available on Lander’s Facebook page. Here are the highlights:

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Bike-Share Already Getting More Use Than Park Slope’s Free Parking Spots

Citi Bike is getting a lot of use in Park Slope. Image: Viktor Geller

Citi Bike use is high and rising in Park Slope. Image: Viktor Geller

The new bike-share stations in Brooklyn south of Atlantic Avenue are getting a lot more use than your average free on-street parking space, according to recent Citi Bike data compiled by Carroll Gardens resident Viktor Geller [PDF]. Geller addressed the report to Brooklyn Community Board 6, which is holding a hearing on Thursday in response to complaints about bike-share stations replacing curbside car parking.

Citi Bike and DOT publish usage data online each month. In the neighborhoods in CB 6, stations were just installed this summer, and Geller’s data shows usage is still on the rise.

Stations in some neighborhoods are used more intensely than others. In Park Slope, it’s typical for two or three bike-share trips to begin or end at each dock each day. In Red Hook, the average is lower — more like one bike-share “event” at each dock per day. But even so, since each car parking space is equivalent to about eight bike-share docks, that means about eight bike-share trips either begin or end each day in the space one car would occupy — and that’s in the area with the least amount of use.

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Read Brad Lander’s Pitch-Perfect Statement on Bike-Share and Parking

City Council Member Brad Lander released a pitch-perfect response to complaints about bike-share and curbside parking today. Other NYC pols should take note.

Council Member Brad Lander.

Every time bike-share expands to new neighborhoods, some people get upset — mainly because the local supply of free curbside car parking shrinks by a fraction of a percent. Last week Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell, who represents the Upper West Side, demonstrated how not to respond — he validated those complaints by process-truthing and promising to “restore critical parking spaces,” as if parking for bikes that are used multiple times a day is a less productive use of curb space than storing private cars.

In Brooklyn, Community Board 6 has invited people to complain about stations they don’t like, with the expectation that DOT will move at least some of them, despite the fact that station sitings were guided by a lengthy public process.

Lander’s district overlaps with that of CB 6. A statement posted today on his web site is a remarkable example of how elected officials should communicate the value of these types of changes. Here’s an excerpt:

There are approximately 25,000-30,000 parking spots in CB6. Citi Bike has taken away 150-200 of them — about ½ of 1 percent. I know that is small comfort if several of them are right near your house. But it is also important to remember that 57% of the households in our community don’t own cars. And for every parking spot lost to Citi Bike, there are approximately 5-8 bike-share trips per day (far more times than a typical side-street parking spot would be used).

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Bike-Share Stations Don’t Usurp Parking — They Are Parking

Space hogs in Manhattan and Brooklyn are complaining about bike-share stations on neighborhood streets, and the powers that be are listening.

In a letter to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell complained about the much-anticipated rollout of Citi Bike on the Upper West Side.

Here’s an excerpt from O’Donnell’s constituent newsletter (hat tip to Peter Frishauf), which went out Wednesday:

First, the placement of Citi Bike’s docking stations and the resulting loss of parking spaces. Secondly, the lack of community input during a rather quick implementation process.

It is my hope that we can explore alternate solutions to restore critical parking spaces, and that increased dialogue with community will be a part of that exploratory process.

O’Donnell apparently believes parking for cars should be the default use for New York City curb space. He also seems to think the extensive public process for bike-share siting, which already happened, shouldn’t count because people are now griping about parking. All this in a district where more than 75 percent of households don’t own cars.

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Expanded Citi Bike Routinely Hitting 60,000 Trips Per Day

With 67,489 trips last Wednesday, Citi Bike hit a new daily ridership peak for the ninth time this month, according to an email sent to members this morning. Riders have made 10 million Citi Bike trips so far in 2016, reaching the milestone more three months earlier than last year.

Citi Bike has broken its daily ridership record nine -- nine! -- times this month. Photo: Jon Orcutt

Citi Bike has broken its daily ridership record nine — nine! — times this month. Photo: Jon Orcutt

NYC’s bike-share system is in the middle of a three-year expansion plan, with the service area now extending up to 110th Street in Manhattan and into the Brooklyn neighborhoods between Prospect Park and the Red Hook waterfront. Record ridership should be expected as the system grows, but it’s notable just how many people use the system now. On days with good weather, notes Citi Bike, ridership is comparable to the Staten Island Ferry or the boro taxi program.

For international comparison, London’s bike-share program, which is three years older than New York’s and has more stations and bikes, has only topped 60,000 rides twice in its entire history, according to Transport for London data. Only Paris’s Velib and China’s massive bike-share systems get more ridership.

After declining in 2014, Citi Bike ridership started to turn around last summer when new ownership made a slew of improvements to the system’s hardware and software and began to add new stations.

The question now is how the city and Motivate will keep the momentum going after next year’s round of expansion in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. DOT says its goal is to bring bike-share to all five boroughs, though it has yet to provide a timetable for doing so.

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Tell CB 6 and Mayor de Blasio That Bike-Share Belongs on Brooklyn Streets

Last week a bunch of people showed up at a Brooklyn Community Board 6 meeting to complain about Citi Bike, which has recently expanded into Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Red Hook. Bike-share wasn’t on the agenda, but that didn’t stop one hothead from screaming in the faces of board members about the perceived threat to free on-street car parking.

It’s the same old story: People believe they are entitled to park for free on public streets, and anything that diminishes the quantity of free on-street parking is infringing on their “rights.”

You can add your name to a petition to remind officials that bike-share is a welcome transportation option for New Yorkers who live, work, and play in those neighborhoods — most of whom don’t own cars. Posted by “Citizens for Citi Bike,” the petition will be sent to CB 6, Council Member Brad Lander, Borough President Eric Adams, and DOT.

It might be a good idea to send it to City Hall as well. Asked by WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough last Friday why bike-share docks are “taking precious parking” in Brooklyn, Mayor de Blasio minced words:

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Citi Bike Expands South of Atlantic Avenue

A newly-installed Citi Bike station outside the Fifth Avenue Key Foods in Park Slope. Photo: @brooklynsja

A newly-installed Citi Bike station outside the Fifth Avenue Key Foods in Park Slope. Photo: @brooklynsja

Yesterday, Citi Bike began installing stations in the Brooklyn neighborhoods south of Atlantic Avenue and west of Prospect Park. A few stations are already operating, according to the Citi Bike station map, with a total of 73 set to go live in the area in the coming weeks.

All told there are 139 new bike-share stations coming online this year, with another batch in the pipeline for 2017.

The initial expansion map for this part of Brooklyn called for 20 stations per square mile, spreading them farther apart than the 23 per square mile in the initial Citi Bike service area. This was a problem, since longer walking distances between stations make the system less useful.

In May, DOT proposed 11 more station locations [PDF], bringing the station density in line with the rest of the system (but still short of the 28 per square mile recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials).

The eleven "infill" stations added by DOT after the initial station map was approved are marked in black. Image: DOT

The 11 black stations are “infill” added to the initial station map. Image: DOT

Here’s a look at a few more of the new stations that have gone in since yesterday:

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