DOT Finalizes Weak Bike-Share Station Maps for Manhattan Expansion [Updated]

DOT’s bike-share expansion maps for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side are now final, and they’re not any better than the draft maps that showed a thinned-out network of stations for some of the city’s densest neighborhoods.

The orange discs represent areas that would have bike-share stations in a well-designed network but don’t in DOT’s plan for the Upper West Side. Map: Transportation Alternatives

The final maps shift a handful of stations around but don’t add any (here’s the UWS final and draft map, and here’s the final and draft map for the UES).

That’s a problem. In each neighborhood, the planned bike-share network falls about 10 to 12 stations shy of the 28-stations-per-square-mile density recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The likely result will be a more frustrating experience for bike-share users above 59th Street, and fewer subscribers than a densely-sited network would generate. If this is how DOT is going to handle station siting in the rest of the bike-share expansion zone, it will spell trouble for the whole system.

As Streetsblog reported earlier this month, the thinned-out bike-share network in these expansion zones arises from a dispute between DOT and Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike. DOT wants the next wave of bike-share to reach all the neighborhoods that were promised as part of the “phase 2” expansion, but Motivate doesn’t want to supply the number of stations needed to attain effective density throughout that area.

While Motivate supplies stations, the company can’t install any without permission from DOT. So far, though, DOT appears to be refraining from using this leverage to get more stations out of Motivate. Unless something gives, New York is going to be left with a subpar bike-share network not just on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, but throughout the expansion zone, which is supposed reach Harlem, western Queens, and several more Brooklyn neighborhoods by 2017.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side in the City Council, and Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side. The council members could make a difference by telling DOT they want an effective neighborhood bike-share network for their constituents. Neither office, however, has replied to Streetsblog’s requests for comment.

Streetsblog has a request in with DOT about what might prompt the agency to beef up the bike-share networks in these neighborhoods. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

Update, 6:50 p.m.: DOT sent the following statement about the system expansion and bike-share network density…

DOT is committed to achieving the target program density across all parts of the Citi Bike system, which will ultimately require adding more stations to both the Upper East and West Sides, and the other portions of the Phase II expansion area.

That said, our current focus is on successful planning and implementation for the Phase II Citi Bike expansion as agreed upon by the City and Motivate in December.

As Motivate continues to clear the many challenges it faced when it assumed ownership, and as New Yorkers continue to ride in record numbers, DOT is confident that we and Motivate will agree upon a solution that provides the stations needed to bring the entire Citi Bike program up to its target station density.

Achieving full station density in the outer boroughs and Harlem–and not just in the most heavily visited portions of Manhattan–is essential not only for fairness and transportation dynamics, but also for facilitating future “Phase III” expansion that can bring economic and mobility benefits to neighborhoods currently underserved by existing modes of transit.

DOT remains committed to this goal, and feels confident that we and our partners at Motivate will meet it.

Helen Rosenthal’s office also sent this statement from the council member:

I’m thrilled Citi Bike is coming to the Upper West Side, and I’m signing up as soon as the docking stations are installed. I appreciate that DOT has agreed to closely monitor their use to determine if additional stations are feasible.