Citi Bike Expansion Ushered In By DOT, City And Community Leaders With 5th Avenue Ribbon Cutting

Citi Bike Expansion Ushered In By DOT, City And Community Leaders With 5th Avenue Ribbon Cutting
Citi Bike
[Left – Right] Kim Maier, Executive Director, Old Stone House; Gilly Youner, co-President, Park Slope Civic Council; CB6 District Manager Craig Hammerman; Daniel Wiley, Community Coordinator for Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez; John Frost, E.D. of Bikeshare Program, DOT; NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg; Council Member Brad Lander; Doug Gordon, Brooklyn Spoke; Citi Bike General Manager Jules Flynn; Paul Steely White, E.D. of Transportation Alternatives. (Photo by Donny Levit / Park Slope Stoop)

Down 5th Avenue they rode: DOT leaders, Council Member Brad Lander, and a host of other community members ready to unveil the new docking stations which are coming into service in Park Slope, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Street Waterfront District, and Red Hook as part of the second wave expansion of Citi Bike. Last Fall, Community Board 6 unanimously approved Citi Bike expansion to the area.

On Thursday morning at the new docking station at 5th Avenue near 3rd Street, the leaders parked their bikes and spoke about the expansion deeper into Brownstone Brooklyn.

After the Brooklyn expansion, the Citi Bike program will have 485 stations, according to NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We’ll have more bikeshare stations than subway stations,” she said.

Citi Bike
NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg (center, parking bike), Park Slope Civic Council co-President Gilly Youner (on bike), Council Member Brad Lander (center with tie, walking bike) and other officials rode into the unveiling of a new Citi Bike docking station on 5th Avenue near 3rd Street. (Photo by Donny Levit / Park Slope Stoop)

“We are in the epicenter of bike culture and safe streets culture,” said Council Member Brad Lander. But he also highlighted the importance of making the docking stations a presence in the Red Hook neighborhood which have less immediate access to the subway system.

“It’s hard to imagine Citi Bike not being here,” said Citi Bike General Manager Jules Flynn.

No doubt Citi Bike is immensely popular. And the second wave expansion will bring the total close to 10,000 bikes in the city.

“We had 40 days this year with 50,000 riders,” added Flynn.

Citi Bike
NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg (at podium), Council Member Brad Lander and civic leaders unveil the Citi Bike docking station. (Photo by Donny Levit / Park Slope Stoop)

Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White pointed out that the program is public transit. “We can rely on the city and not on the state,” he said, allowing the decisions and future of the program to be more focused on the needs of New York City residents.

citibike map
Current status map for Citi Bike docking stations as of August 25, 2015. (Via Citi Bike)

Lander wants the expansion to continue. “I hope to see even further expansions throughout the five boroughs, especially for Brooklynites in Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Boro Park eager for Citi Bike stations of their own,” Lander said last May.

The rollout of docking stations has been met with both enthusiasm as well as exasperation from neighbors.

Kim Leon said she and her other neighbors on Carroll Street are frustrated with the parking spaces lost between 4th and 5th Avenues on her block. She estimates 12-15 spots are no longer available.

“You are taking money from small businesses, allowing larger corporations to reap benefits for an unnecessary item,” says Leon. “People own bikes. Why do we need 78 Citi Bike stations in Brooklyn?”

The issue of bike safety — especially for those who are “newbie” cyclists — has also been a topic of discussion. New members of the Citi Bike program as well as long-time cyclists have expressed concerns over the lack of helmet availability with the program.

Industrial designer and Brooklyn resident Isis Shiffer has developed the EcoHelmet, which Citylab describes as “a collapsible shield made of waterproof paper and adhesive fashioned into a hexagonal honeycomb pattern. It folds up to roughly the size of a banana.”

Citylab uses Seattle as an example of helmet safety:

For bike-share companies, then, Shiffer’s EcoHelmet is a deus ex machina of an invention: Certainly relative to the sums paid out for lawsuits, it’s mercifully inexpensive, and compared to the full-size helmet vending machine attached to the bike-share program in Seattle—one of the only bike-share cities in the U.S. with a mandatory helmet law for all riders—it’s both streamlined and hygienic.

Civic leaders at the ribbon cutting were united in their enthusiasm for the rollout.

For Kim Maier, Executive Director of the Old Stone House, the docking stations provide easier access to central areas in the the neighborhood. The Old Stone House is next door to J.J. Byrne Playground. “As a park, we’re a locus.”

Lander agrees, connecting the docking stations to the Battle of Brooklyn commemorations happening this week. “[George] Washington would have had a better chance if Citi Bike were around.”

For membership or day passes, visit the Citi Bike website or download the app. You can also save $25 off an annual membership if you sign up by August 31.