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Posts from the Bike Sharing Category

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The Trouble With Citi Bike Above 59th Is Station Density, Not the Timeline

The timetable for Citi Bike expansion on the UWS isn’t a problem. The real trouble is that after all the planned stations go in, neighborhoods will still have gaps in their bike-share networks (the orange discs). Map: Transportation Alternatives

For some reason, the timeline for phasing in the Citi Bike expansion in Manhattan is getting covered as a minor scandal, even though officials are sticking to the schedule they revealed months ago. The real problem with the bike-share expansion plan is the thinned-out station network, which is, unfortunately, getting buried by the faux story about a delayed roll-out.

The West Side Rag came out with the first headline about the Upper West Side getting “only 21 of 39″ stations this year. The Post ran with the same angle, and Curbed picked up the Post story.

Just so we’re clear: The timetable announced last week is essentially the same as the timetable announced in May — the bike-share service area will extend to 86th Street this year, and up to 110th Street next spring. (The West Side Rag reported as much at the time.) Further expansion is slated for 2017.

There’s been no “reduction” in stations for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, just some confusion because not all the stations on DOT’s neighborhood bike-share maps will get installed until spring.

Meanwhile, the real story about how the city is flubbing the bike-share expansion is getting overlooked (except on Curbed). As we’ve reported, DOT is trying to spread out bike-share stations too thinly, which threatens to impede the quality of bike-share service in the expansion zone, making it less reliable and more expensive to operate.

More stories about the real problem, instead of the imaginary one, could make a big difference for bike-share going forward.

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Citi Bike Will Start Rolling Out 139 New Stations August 10

citibike_expansion_map

Map via Citi Bike

Hard to believe it’s only been two years since bike-share launched in New York. After a tumultuous start roiled by software bugs and the bankruptcy of a key supplier, the city’s bike-share system is finally on a more even keel and ready to expand. Today NYC DOT and Citi Bike announced a firm date when the next batch of stations will begin to roll out: August 10.

The expansion zones will be getting 139 new bike-share stations this year, the first phase in what will add up to at least 375 new stations by the end of 2017. Right now the system has 332 stations, so it’s about to grow 40 percent.

Here are the numbers from Citi Bike about which neighborhoods are getting how many stations in 2015:

  • Queens: Long Island City, 12 stations
  • Brooklyn: Bed Stuy, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, 79 new stations
  • Manhattan: Upper East and West Sides to 86th Street, 48 new stations

One fly in the ointment — and it’s a big one — NYC DOT is planning to spread out the new stations too thinly. If DOT and Motivate don’t figure out a plan to maintain a sufficient density of stations as the system grows, bike-share won’t be as reliable as it should be in the expansion zones, and that will spell trouble for the whole system.

Hopefully DOT will work out a better plan, because the growth of bike-share is great news, and the system needs to stay reliable to keep on growing.

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Citi Bike Map Now Shows Over 100 New Stations Coming Soon

Get ready: Though there's no official date yet, Citi Bike looks set to expand soon to Long Island City, more of Brooklyn, and Manhattan south of 86th Street.

Here’s where the first round of new bike-share stations will go, according to the Citi Bike app.

New York City’s bike-share expansion is almost here. Citi Bike has added more than 100 new stations to its system map in Brooklyn, Long Island City, and between 59th Street and 86th Street in Manhattan. While it’s difficult to assess station density with much detail from eyeballing the map, you can see that parts of the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, and Bed-Stuy have thinner station spacing than is typical in the rest of the system.

The updated map is available on Citi Bike’s website and mobile app. A spokesperson wouldn’t say when the new stations will be rolling out, but this round of expansion is expected to start in the summer.

When it relaunched with new ownership last fall, Citi Bike committed to expansions in Brooklyn and Long Island City by the end of this year. This spring, DOT brass said that the Upper East Side and Upper West Side south of 86th Street would likely be included in a summer expansion, as well. Further expansions are planned in 2016 and 2017.

The station locations themselves have been developed through several rounds of public meetings and don’t come as surprise. DOT had posted the locations in a series of maps for each community board district.

While Citi Bike is coming soon to more neighborhoods, those neighborhoods won’t necessarily get the same caliber of bike-share service. A dispute between DOT and Citi Bike parent company Motivate has left the expansion zones, which include some of the city’s densest neighborhoods, with fewer stations per square mile than the existing system. The convenience, reliability, and overall usefulness of the system in those thinned-out areas won’t be up to the standards bike-share users in New York are accustomed to.

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DOT Finalizes Weak Bike-Share Station Maps for Manhattan Expansion [Updated]

DOT’s bike-share expansion maps for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side are now final, and they’re not any better than the draft maps that showed a thinned-out network of stations for some of the city’s densest neighborhoods.

UWS_thin_bike_share

The orange discs represent areas that would have bike-share stations in a well-designed network but don’t in DOT’s plan for the Upper West Side. Map: Transportation Alternatives

The final maps shift a handful of stations around but don’t add any (here’s the UWS final and draft map, and here’s the final and draft map for the UES).

That’s a problem. In each neighborhood, the planned bike-share network falls about 10 to 12 stations shy of the 28-stations-per-square-mile density recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The likely result will be a more frustrating experience for bike-share users above 59th Street, and fewer subscribers than a densely-sited network would generate. If this is how DOT is going to handle station siting in the rest of the bike-share expansion zone, it will spell trouble for the whole system.

As Streetsblog reported earlier this month, the thinned-out bike-share network in these expansion zones arises from a dispute between DOT and Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike. DOT wants the next wave of bike-share to reach all the neighborhoods that were promised as part of the “phase 2″ expansion, but Motivate doesn’t want to supply the number of stations needed to attain effective density throughout that area.

While Motivate supplies stations, the company can’t install any without permission from DOT. So far, though, DOT appears to be refraining from using this leverage to get more stations out of Motivate. Unless something gives, New York is going to be left with a subpar bike-share network not just on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, but throughout the expansion zone, which is supposed reach Harlem, western Queens, and several more Brooklyn neighborhoods by 2017.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side in the City Council, and Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side. The council members could make a difference by telling DOT they want an effective neighborhood bike-share network for their constituents. Neither office, however, has replied to Streetsblog’s requests for comment.

Streetsblog has a request in with DOT about what might prompt the agency to beef up the bike-share networks in these neighborhoods. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

Update, 6:50 p.m.: DOT sent the following statement about the system expansion and bike-share network density…

Read more…

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Motivate and DOT Squabble, Jeopardizing Success of Bike-Share Expansion

A dispute between NYC DOT and the company that runs Citi Bike threatens to rob New York City’s bike-share expansion of the very quality that’s made the existing service so useful. The key issue is station density, and whether the stations where Citi Bike expands will be within easy walking distance of each other like in the rest of the system.

UWS_station_deficit

DOT’s expansion plan for the Upper West Side falls 10-13 stations shy of the recommended standard, and that could spell trouble for the bike-share system as a whole. Map: Transportation Alternatives

The density of stations in the current Citi Bike network sets it apart from other American bike-share systems and helps explain why it’s used much more intensely. You can go anywhere in the service area and know that a station to pick up or drop off a bike is a short walk away. But DOT’s bike-share maps for the Upper East Side and Upper West Side abandon this core design principle.

The expansion plans for these neighborhoods each fall about a dozen stations shy of the density recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, 28 per square mile [PDF]. On the Upper West Side, for instance, you can see the station deficit in this visualization produced by Transportation Alternatives — each orange disc represents a zone that should have a bike-share station in DOT’s plans but doesn’t.

The dearth of stations has been abundantly clear to participants at public meetings about the expansion, but when Streetsblog asked for comment from City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos, neither office wanted to speak up on the issue.

The Upper East Side and Upper West Side are two of the most densely populated neighborhoods in New York, right next to Midtown and all its jobs. Both areas also have large museums and hospitals and lots of latent demand for convenient cross-town travel. The appetite for bike-share should be enormous, and so should the revenue from Citi Bike memberships and day-passes — revenue that can, in effect, subsidize bike-share service in less dense parts of town.

That’s why thinning out the network in these expansion areas risks more than inconveniencing bike-share users who live in the neighborhood. If people can’t expect a short walk to and from stations, and if they can’t count on a redundant station nearby in the event their preferred station is full or empty, they won’t pay for bike-share and there won’t be much revenue to redirect toward service in other areas of the city.

DOT’s reluctance to go with the NACTO-recommended station density is tied to a dispute with Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike.

Read more…

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Take a Look at the EZ New Citi Bike Docks

The new Ben Serotta-designed Citi Bikes are hitting the streets — 1,000 are supposed to go into circulation by the end of the month. But wait, there’s more. Citi Bike is also testing out new docking mechanisms. I tried one out at the bike-share station on Eighth Avenue next to Penn Station, where a few docks have the new hardware.

The biggest difference is that the bike automatically pops out once it’s unlocked, so riders don’t have to pull it. Also, while you can still release a bike by dipping a key fob, there’s also a spot on the right side of the dock to tap Citi Bike touch cards. Have a look:

Before, above. After, below. Photos: Stephen Miller

Before, above. After, below. Photos: Stephen Miller

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Upper West Siders to DOT: Citi Bike Stations Need to Be Closer Together

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations between 59th and 107th streets. Map: DOT [PDF]

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations between 62nd and 107th streets. Click to enlarge. Map: DOT [PDF]

Citi Bike is coming to the Upper West Side, but the expansion map DOT revealed last night has big gaps between stations. Like the map for the Upper East Side, the UWS plan calls for fewer stations per square mile than the current Citi Bike service area.

Both neighborhoods are among the densest residential areas in the city and have major destinations like hospitals and museums. If stations are too few and far between, the system will be poorly-equipped to provide good service.

At a meeting of the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee last night, DOT showed the draft map for 39 bike-share stations between 62nd and 107th streets [PDF 1, 2], the product of a public planning process that stretches back several years.

Nearly 200 people showed up. While there was no shortage of Rabinowitz-esque opposition to “commercialization” and the loss of free on-street parking, most people were eager for bike-share’s arrival.

“We recognize that every parking space is needed and valued by the community,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione. “But listen, there’s a trade-off. This is a great amenity and a great asset for the community.” The crowd then erupted in booming applause.

Several audience members told DOT they wanted stations spaced closer together, and closer to major destinations. “I don’t think this is going to be enough bikes to satisfy the need,” said Pamela Margolin, who lives on West 81st Street across from the Museum of Natural History. “We need to have enough bikes to make it work. I don’t think those two stations [near the museum] are going to be enough.”

Read more…

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Here’s Where Citi Bike Stations Will Go on the Upper East Side

Map: DOT [PDF]

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations on the Upper East Side between 59th and 96th Streets. Stations below 86th Street could be up and running by late summer or early fall. Map: DOT [PDF]

At a meeting hosted by the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee last night, DOT unveiled a map showing 39 planned Citi Bike station locations on the Upper East Side [PDF]. The city said it expects service to be operating as far north as 86th Street by late summer or early fall, with further expansion next year.

The station locations were identified after a multi-year planning process, followed by a public workshop in February, where DOT asked the public to suggest station locations.

With narrow sidewalks throughout much of the neighborhood, most of the 37 stations, with an average of 35 docks each, will be installed in the roadbed. DOT is still working with NYCHA and tenants associations on exact locations for two stations near Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers between 91st and 96th streets and between First and York Avenues.

Read more…

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America’s Biggest Bike-Share Operator Now Makes Its Own Bikes

Motivate-Bike-and-Mystery-Man

Ben Serotta assembles one of the first models of Motivate’s new bike. Photo: Motivate

Motivate, the company that runs bike-share systems in several large American cities, is now manufacturing its own bikes. That might explain why the timetable for Citi Bike expansion has been getting a lot firmer.

When the current Motivate management team took over last fall, they inherited two big problems. Most of their systems ran on flawed software that crippled reliability and frustrated riders, and the manufacturer of their bikes had gone bankrupt.

Now both issues have been addressed: Replacement software from 8D Technologies installed this spring has a proven track record in other cities, and the new bikes — designed by Ben Serotta — clear up how the company’s fleets will be expanded and replenished.

The new bikes will be used in the expansion of Citi Bike starting later this year, in Jersey City’s upcoming bike-share system, and in any future system operated by Motivate. Bike-share docks will be compatible with both the new bikes and the old models made by Bixi.

Motivate_Green_BikeThe new design retains the thick boomerang-shaped frame — the notable differences are in the guts and components of the bike. Gearing has been adjusted so riders don’t spin so much in the low gear. The seats, notorious for cracking and retaining moisture in the current models, got an overhaul. “The construction and material are both supposed to improve wear,” said Serotta, “plus the hole in the middle allows water to drain and not puddle in the middle… and provides a more comfortable, better ventilated ride.” (Nigel Tufnel will be delighted to see that the seat post size now goes to 11.)

In designing the new bikes, Serotta worked in tandem with Motivate’s head mechanics. In a short email interview, he explained that process and how it shaped the end product. Below is a lightly edited version:

Read more…

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Citi Bike Could Expand to 86th Street This Summer

It looks like that Phase II expansion might itself come in phases, starting later this summer. Image: Citi Bike

That Phase II expansion looks like it will start this summer. Image: Citi Bike

It looks like some parts of Manhattan north of 59th Street could be getting Citi Bike sooner than previously expected.

At a town hall hosted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal last week, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said Citi Bike would expand to 86th Street by August or September, and to 110th Street “probably in March,” reports West Side Rag. Citi Bike had previously announced its intent to extend the service area to about 130th Street by the end of 2017. Last week’s meeting revealed the timetable for phasing in that expansion.

Manhattanites will have a chance to look over the final bike-share station map starting this week, following public meetings earlier this year. The Community Board 8 transportation committee, which covers the Upper East Side, is meeting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The CB 7 transportation committee, covering the Upper West Side, is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

Expansion in Brooklyn — part of Citi Bike’s plan to grow from 6,000-bike system to 12,000 bikes — is set to come in phases, too, though there is no specific timetable yet.

New stations in Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg are expected to come online first, by the end of this year. DNAinfo reported last week that DOT staff say the first significant group of stations south of Atlantic Avenue will be added west of Fourth Avenue, before covering Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.