Citi Bike first appeared in New York City in 2013 with 6,000 bikes and hundreds of stations scattered throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Currently, it’s the nation’s largest bike share program and has expanded to more of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Jersey City and Hoboken. Since its start, the number of Citi Bikes has quadrupled: there are currently 25,000 bikes and over 1,500 stations. However, not all New Yorkers have had equal access to the program.
Why are there no Citi Bikes in eastern Queens?
Recently a neighbor pointed out that there were no Citi Bikes on the east side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. However, these findings are not new. A report was published in 2019 criticizing Citi Bike for serving whiter and more affluent neighborhoods. The report found that Citi Bikes were disproportionately unavailable to people of color; at the time the city was 32.1% white, but more than 50% of Citi Bike’s service area was in predominantly white neighborhoods. The report also revealed that Citi Bike served the wealthiest parts of the city — at the time, the median household income of its service area was $90,400.
Following the report, Citi Bike came up with its five-year expansion plan, which included introducing bikes in all parts of Manhattan, the Bronx and deeper into Brooklyn and Queens. Additionally, in an effort to make Citi Bikes accessible to low-income New Yorkers, Citi Bike introduced the Reduced Fare Bike Share program. This program is for New Yorkers who live in NYCHA Housing Developments or receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Those who qualify are able to get a discounted Citi Bike membership for $5 per month, compared to the standard $15 monthly membership.
Citi Bike is currently in Phase 3 of its expansion, which started in 2019 and will finish in 2024. It includes the following neighborhoods:
- The Bronx: Mott Haven, Melrose, Port Morris, Highbridge, Claremont, Morrisania, Longwood, Concourse and Mt. Eden
- Brooklyn: Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, East Flatbush, Sunset Park, South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Park South and Kensington
- Manhattan: Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Sugar Hill, Washington Heights and Inwood
- Queens: Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona
“Citi Bike has proven to be a vital, wildly popular transportation option — especially during the pandemic when ridership soared,” says Vin Barone, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation (DOT). “Following robust public outreach, the Department of Transportation is excited to bring this service to more New Yorkers as we continue our Phase 3 expansion to promote safe, healthy and sustainable transportation options.” DOT is in charge of selecting neighborhoods for Citi Bike stations. Lyft, Citi Bike’s parent company, handles installations and operations.
When will I see changes in my neighborhood?
According to DOT, it has conducted extensive outreach in Queens by collecting feedback from respondents on station placement and presenting the findings to community boards. Nearly 10 years after its launch, Citi Bikes will finally expand to Queens neighborhoods like Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Corona in late 2023. Some community members are thrilled with the new addition to the neighborhood.
“We can’t wait,” says Jim Burke, co-founder of the 34th Avenue Open Streets Coalition. “Right now, Citi Bikes are so close. They are on 34th Avenue and 60th Street, 62nd Street and Northern Boulevard. We have it so close, but it’s not close enough.”
When a neighborhood is chosen as a Citi Bike location, there is a four-step planning process: station siting, public outreach, draft plan creation and final steps and installation. During the station siting process, possible bike dock stations are planned with considerations for hydrants, utilities and accessibility. During the public outreach step, in-person DOT ambassadors begin speaking with neighbors. Residents can also submit station suggestions through the interactive station planning map. During the draft plan creation step, the station locations are presented to the community boards. Finally, the community board has one month to gather feedback and approve the draft plan before stations will begin to be installed.
Currently, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Corona are in the public part of the planning process. Eastern Queens residents can expect to see Citi Bikes in their neighborhood late next year.
Can I have a say in the planning process?
If you live in Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Corona and want a say on where to put or not add a Citi Bike location, you can do so the following ways: