‘Can we speed that up?’: De Blasio, DOT Explain Slow Expansion of Citi Bike in Outer Boroughs

‘Can we speed that up?’: De Blasio, DOT Explain Slow Expansion of Citi Bike in Outer Boroughs
Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg testing out dockless bikes in the Rockaways last week (Via Mayor’s Office)

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS—Citi Bikes are coming to more neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but it’s going to take a while, city officials say.

On Monday, reports emerged indicating that the Citi Bike program is expanding deeper into New York’s outer boroughs, including areas that are less wealthy and heavily non-white—neighborhoods Citi Bike disproportionately does not serve, according to a recent report.

On Tuesday, following calls from elected officials like Borough President Eric Adams to make Citi Bikes available in a more diverse array of neighborhoods, the city announced that it would makes moves toward that end, as Bklyner reported. Specifically, Citi Bikes will be added in Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Park Slope, Prospect Park South, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, East Flatbush and Sunset Park.

But under the $400 to $500 million plan, all of the new Citi Bike docks will not be ready to go until 2023, 10 years after the initiative began, leaving Citi Bikes’ coverage with holes for the time being. Why will it takes four more years, more time than Mayor Bill de Blasio will be in office, to put into place a key piece of his transportation agenda?

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said Tuesday that the city was moving fast as possible, given the amount of personnel the agency has for community outreach.

“We are [working] as quick as we can possibly can,” she said at a press conference in the Bronx. “We are a team of about 12 people at DOT who do this. I have tasked the team with doing this as fast as possible.”

Trottenberg added that it takes six to nine months to find the appropriate locations to place the Citi Bikes.

“When we are done with this expansion, we will be at 40,000 bikes and we will be the second or third largest bike-share system in the world,” she said.

De Blasio, at an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday, defended the plan to engage in a lengthy public review process to get the Citi Bikes on the streets.

“I would caution that there’s obviously a huge debate everywhere we go on these issues,” he said. “I hear lots of times from elected officials and from community leaders who are worried about what they see as problems with bikes. We are trying to balance all these things.”

(Many community boards and residents have in recent years objected to the implementation of Citi Bikes due to fears about losing parking spaces, among other reasons).

“In the end, de Blasio continued, “there’s been … many a community board who said don’t put it in and I overrode.”

“So I got no problem taking that heat,” he added.

De Blasio went on to say that there are “valid discussions that we try to have with people before implementing” street space changes, rather than ramming through his agenda.

In addition, the mayor said that he wants to quicken the process with which Citi Bikes are expanded.

“Can we speed that up? I think that’s a fair question,” said de Blasio. “I would like to speed it up, so that’s something we’ll work on.”


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