With the ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday morning in Long Island City, Queens becomes the third borough – joining Brooklyn and Manhattan – to have a Citi Bike station.
“This is a victory for Long Island City and all of Queens, one we never gave up on,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a staunch proponent for the bike share program's expansion into Queens. “This is a dream come true.”
The new station – located at Center Boulevard between Borden Avenue and 54th Avenue – is part of the bike share program's massive expansion, thanks to an increased sponsorship commitment from Citi in the amount of $70.5 million, a $21 million increase in credit from Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, and an infusion of private capital from Motivate’s investors.
“We are here to literally double the size of Citi Bike and make it one of the largest bike-share systems in the entire world,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate, the company responsible for managing the bike share program.
The number of bikes available to patrons will go from 6,000 to 12,000 with the addition of 91 new stations in Brooklyn and Queens, plus new stations in upper Manhattan. Walder said each bike is used an estimated nine times per day, putting program ahead of London and Paris in terms of usage.
In conjunction with the announcement, Citi Bike is offering a $25 discount to new members who sign up by August 31.
The expansion starts with the station adjacent to the ferry landing in Gantry Plaza State Park. Starting this week, 12 stations will be added in Long Island City, with Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant the next neighborhoods to receive new stations.
“Residents of Queens will see Citi Bike in the Long Island City for the first time starting today.” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We are thrilled to see the bike share program expand to Queens, more of Brooklyn and into upper Manhattan for the first time this year, and are already hard at work doing community outreach for expansion into further parts of the city.”
Expansion is stopping there for now, though, as DOT and Motivate are currently designing a plan that will bring Citi Bikes to the neighborhoods of Harlem, Astoria, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Red Hook and Gowanus by 2017.
“I’m particularly excited for the continued expansion of the program,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said. “Because it's nice to have this station here and a number of stations in Long Island City, but the people from elsewhere need a way to get to Long Island City and the people from Long Island city will want to go elsewhere to places that don't have the program.
“I hope that in a year or so well be farther into the north of Astoria to unveil another expansion of this program into Queens,” he added.
The expansion announcement was an exciting one for the company, which by some reports was falling apart just a year ago. An editorial in the Daily News even called for members to boycott the service when membership was up. Since that time, Motivate has overhauled the entire fleet and created a new line of custom bikes.
“Nine months, ago New Yorkers wondered about the future of Citi Bike,” said Walder. “Today New Yorkers see a much improved and now expanding system. It’s really just the beginning; we look forward to seeing Citi Bike double in size over the next two years.”
In addition to the new stations in Queens, elected officials also touted the expanded cycling infrastructure in the area around Long Island City and Greenpoint. New bike lanes were unveiled earlier in the summer on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, and the next project is to introduce bike lanes on the Pulaski Bride, which Trottenberg said should be complete in spring of 2016.