The city started a process on Thursday night that could bring dozens of CitiBike stations to the Upper West Side as soon as late summer, extending the bike-sharing program as far North as 130th street. Now, the program only runs as high as West 61st street.
At a meeting at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on Thursday night, more than 100 local residents gathered to hear about the program from CitiBike reps and Department of Transportation officials. After an explanation of how it works, they presented maps of potential spots and asked for comments about the sites. People worked in groups of 6 to mark locations they thought were appropriate or inappropriate for CitiBike stations.
The city has mapped about 150 spots in the neighborhood where a site could be supported, but in the end there will likely be fewer than 50 stations, a CitiBike rep said. Under the scenario being discussed, people wouldn’t have to walk more than about 5 blocks to find a station near them.
One resident at our table asked whether the program’s expansion could be halted if the community board opposes it, but a CitiBike rep said that the program will not be derailed at this point.
“Bikeshare is coming to this neighborhood. It’s happening.”
The docking stations can be as long as 90 feet and can be placed on sidewalks, streets, or in other areas like pedestrian plazas. The sites on the DOT’s map are scattered throughout the neighborhood, from 59th to 110th streets. If placed in the street, a 90-foot spot would take four to five parking spots.
When the program was first rolled out, the placement of the sites was initially quite controversial. Some people don’t want them in front of their buildings, or think that they sully historic spots. On the Upper West Side, this is almost guaranteed to become an issue, given how many landmark buildings there are and the community’s uneasy relationship with bicycles.
On Thursday, DOT and CitiBike reps asked for suggestions so that the community can help guide the process.
A few observations:
- The city prefers not to put the bikes in parks, because the bikes must be available 24/7 and the parks close late at night.
in part because it forces them to deal with a separate agency, the parks department, that may have different rules. So there were few bike locations inside the parks. (We updated this part after DOT clarified the reason)
- There were lots of proposed stations in the West 100’s and in the 80’s west of Broadway. Not as many near Lincoln Center and none that we could see on West End Avenue below 76th street. This does not mean that there will be more or fewer stations in those places — they’ll likely try to spread the locations around — just that the number of possible stations is different.
- There’s a possible station in front of 15 Central Park West. Maybe it’s time for their “wink-wink illegal parking spots” to become CitiBike spaces?
- Although there was a good turnout, it seems like there should be another meeting like this. The next step of finalizing spots will be a momentous one, and public input will likely have to run through the community board. Many Upper West Siders are busy on certain weeknights, and it’s worth giving them another crack at this.
The next step in this process is for CitiBike and DOT to review the public comments and present a plan to the community board. There will likely be several community board meetings, during which residents can presumably participate and comment. (Note: our CitiBike rep said they wanted the stations to be up by late summer/early fall or next spring at the latest, but apparently reps at other tables gave different timelines, as evidenced by comments below.)
If you would like to suggest locations, you can do so at this website.
Click the map below to enlarge (The red and green stickers are community suggestions, while the city’s potential locations are smaller and in gray. There were a dozen maps in the room, so people put red and green stickers in different places on the different maps. It’s pretty hard to see the locations on the map and they didn’t have a digital version available).