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.
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.