BY YVETTE BROWN
Bike share has finally come to Queens.
The expansion in Queens began on Wednesday, when DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Motivate CEO Jay Walder and other elected officials and community leaders joined together for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Center Boulevard. This marks the first CitiBike installation in Queens which will double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000. The next wave of CitiBikes to be installed will continue to expand into Harlem, Astoria, Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Red Hook and Gowanus by 2017.
“I am proud to have gotten western Queens included in the CitiBike expansion plans,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria). “I look forward to our other neighborhoods enjoying the benefits of CitiBike in the near future.”
When CitiBike was first introduced several years ago, Gianaris encouraged the opportunity to meet with the Department of Transportation to discuss bringing CitiBike to Astoria and other parts of western Queens. LIC was originally supposed to be part of the original wave of CitiBike stations, but due to Hurricane Sandy, plans had to be reconstructed and LIC CitiBike stations were delayed.
With LIC being added to the first phase of expanding CitiBike into Queens, Gianaris said he believes the DOT will advise cyclists on the best structured way to travel from western to eastern Queens. So far, Gianaris’ team has not received any complaints from members of the community. His team said the DOT communicated well with the community every step of the way.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) also said he is looking forward to the CitiBike expansion to the rest of Queens.
“Since its inception Citi Bike has provided New Yorkers with a vital alternative mode of transportation that is empowering tens of thousands every single day,” Van Bramer said in a written statement. “Now we in Queens will have that opportunity. For years I fought to have our borough incorporated into the nation’s largest bike share network and today that becomes a reality. I look forward to continuing our collaboration as we work to expand this popular program into Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside and beyond!”
The expansion is supported by an increased sponsorship from Citi of about $70.5 million which will extend through 2024, a $21 million increase in the credit facility from the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and an infusion of private capital from Motivate investors.
Motivate, a partner in helping with the expansion of CitiBike, replaced the software that powers CitiBike and replaced hardware at all existing stations and docking points which helped Motivate to deliver accurate information to customers through the CitiBike app and improve the ease and reliability of docking bikes. The bike offers a series of new features and comforts including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats to prevent water from pooling when it rains. That way the bikes will spend more time on the road and less time in repair shops.
“Bike share will allow people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit.” said Gianaris. “I am thrilled to see western Queens given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Citi Bike and look forward to its further expansion into more of our neighborhoods.”
The first 139 stations of CitiBike’s expansion will be installed by early fall. CitiBike’s annual membership is $149 a year, but $60 for any New York City Housing Authority resident. To celebrate the expansion of CitiBike, they’re offering a $25 discount to new members who sign up by Aug. 31. For more information about the stations and memberships, visit citibikenyc.com/expansion.
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext.128, email@example.com or @eveywrites