March 23, 2022 By Allie Griffin
The Department of Transportation plans to install more than 50 Citi Bike stations in Maspeth and Middle Village beginning this summer.
The DOT released a draft plan map last month that provides the location of the bike stations that it anticipates installing throughout the two neighborhoods.
The map — which is not final — was first unveiled at a Queens Community Board 5 joint Transportation and Public Transit Committees meeting on Feb. 15. The DOT said that it plans to start installing the stations by the summer.
The stations, 52 in total, would support a mix of both regular bicycles and pedal-assist e-bikes, which can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. About 90 percent of the new bicycles would be standard bikes, while 10 percent would be pedal-assist, according to a representative of Community Board 5.
Stations are typically located every few blocks — approximately a three- to five-minute walk from one another.
The DOT plans to install the stations on both sidewalks and streets throughout Maspeth and Middle Village. The agency’s draft plan map indicates the locations of sidewalk stations with a triangle icon and roadbed stations with a square icon (see map below).
Some residents are concerned that curbside stations installed on the roadway will remove street parking in the neighborhoods.
“We couldn’t get a clear answer in terms of how many parking spots we’re going to lose, but we’re going to lose a boatload,” Richard Huber said at a March 9 Community Board 5 virtual meeting. “All of those people… that drive around all night looking for parking spots are going to drive a little further and burn some more fuel with this proposal.”
He urged the DOT to place the bike stations on the sidewalks instead.
A spokesperson for the agency said the loss of street parking will be minor in Maspeth and Middle Village, compared to other neighborhoods where the bike share program has been implemented. The spokesperson, however, did not provide the actual number that will be lost.
“The repurposing of on-street parking (vs. sidewalk sitting) is relatively minimal in comparison to the program citywide,” DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with Council Member Holden and other stakeholders.”
The station locations, according to the DOT, were determined by community feedback as well as operational considerations.
“We’ve taken in substantial feedback from the community board, elected officials, community organizations, and in-person interaction via DOT’s Street Ambassadors,” Gastel said. “And we are still gathering feedback with a comment period extended through April, though our Queens office always accepts feedback.”
The department will collect feedback on the draft plan for about a month in order to make any adjustments before it begins installation. Residents can submit comments regarding the draft plan via email to [email protected].
But the DOT’s level of outreach has been subject to criticism, with Council Member Bob Holden arguing that more needs to be done. He sent a letter to the DOT on Monday asking the agency to do more.
“Citi bike’s planned expansion in Community Board 5 has raised concerns about the loss of parking spaces in our neighborhoods and the lack of community input in the final plan,” Holden’s letter reads. “I am requesting that Citi Bike representatives attend all our local civic association meetings throughout Community Board 5 to present their plan and listen to feedback from residents.”
Holden’s letter goes on to say that “the installation of your bike stations will have a significant impact on our quality of life. It is important that you listen to our concerns and address them in the final plan.”
A spokesperson for Holden’s office said the DOT reached out to them Tuesday and said that it agreed to meet with representatives from local civic groups to get their input on the Citi Bike locations.
The expansion into Maspeth and Middle Village is part of the third phase of the agency’s plan to build out the bike-sharing network across New York City which first began in 2013 with Phase One. The plan is part of a private-public partnership between the DOT and Lyft, which owns Citi Bike.
The DOT’s role with Citi Bike is to select the sites and conduct outreach, with Lyft being in charge of the day-to-day maintenance of the service.
Citi Bike first entered Queens in 2015 under Phase Two with docking stations in Long Island City. The network was then extended into Astoria and the far reaches of Long Island City in 2017. It was extended once again into northwest Astoria and East Elmhurst at the beginning of 2021.
The Maspeth and Middle Village stations are part of Phase Three which also includes the addition of stations in Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona as well as stations in other boroughs.
The Citi Bike program has been largely popular among residents and visitors. Last year, riders made 27 million trips on the bikes. The program averages about 100,000 daily trips during peak months.
A single ride of up to 30 minutes costs $3.99, a day pass costs $15 and a yearly membership costs $185 a year or $15 a month. Reduced prices are available to NYCHA residents and SNAP recipients.
How many more neighborhoods in this city are going to be ruined by these ugly sites? They’re even on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, which used to be a classy area. I drive on Queens Blvd. between 5-7 days a week and can count on 1 hand how many bicyclists I see from 71st Ave. going down Queens Blvd.! Why do paying drivers have to cater to non-paying, law breaking bicyclists?