By Trisha Sakhuja
Queens residents will see more cyclists on the streets as part of a new program, New York City’s Bike Share network, Citi Bike. By September, 10 select locations across Long Island City will enable Queens to become a part of the nation’s largest public bike share system.
Combined efforts in part by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D- Astoria) and community advocates for Citibike, led the Dept. of Transportation to include Bike Share to Long Island City in Phase 1 of its City-wide initiative.
“I am proud to have worked with Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to bring Bike Share to Long Island City in Phase 1,” said Councilman Van Bramer said. “This had not been part of the original plan but we were able to change the map to include western Queens.
“Our community has worked for years to make western Queens more bike-friendly and our efforts have been largely successful,” Gianaris said. “I am pleased to see that Long Island City is included in future plans, and I hope that the program will be quickly expanded to more western Queens neighborhoods.”
In the first two weeks of Citi Bike’s launch in May, after being delayed twice before in its initial plans, docking stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been reported to work smoothly.
Van Bramer is very excited to ride a Citi Bike come this fall, as he has already bought his annual membership pass.
He sought to see the program in Western Queens after seeing the neighborhoods of Paris and Vienna on a bicycle from a bike share program.
“The bike share program supports our local businesses because you will be more inclined to pick up a quick bite or a drink if you pass a restaurant while biking,” said Van Bramer. “It also encourages a healthy life style.”
Intended to provide New Yorkers and visitors with environmentally- friendly means of transportation that is fun and convenient, Citi Bikes are available 24/7, 365 days a year. The solar-powered, wireless docking station locations were chosen through a participatory pubic input process that determines its need according to population and transit needs.
Each station is equipped with a touch screen kiosk, a map of the service area and the surrounding neighborhood, a docking system that releases a bike for rental with a card or key.
Depending on the type of membership a biker signs up for, the 24- hour access pass or the 7-day access pass, it allots bikers with a 30- minute ride, and if you are a frequent rider with an annual membership, bikers can ride for 45-minutes at a time without incurring overtime fees.
In a recent letter sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the DOT in July, Gianaris formally requested that Woodside, Sunnyside and Astoria also be a part of the future plans for Citi Bike because it goes in-line with Western Queens’ love of cycling and pressing transportation needs.
“By expanding [bike share] to Western Queens, it allows the program to be fully sustainable,” said Gianaris in reference to its start-up costs and the subsidized portion of the budget.”
“Western Queens is bike friendly because of the additional bike lanes added to the streets and the waterfront,” Gianaris added.