Citi Bike Adding Just Five Bushwick Stations Ahead of the L Train Shutdown

Photo: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr
Photo: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr

SB Donation NYC header 2Bushwick’s bike-share fleet is growing — ever so slightly.

Department of Transportation reps presented the expansion to Community Board 4 on Thursday night: a meager five stations in a .2-square-mile zone that covers half the neighborhood [PDF]. It’s a far cry from what many people hoped would be a more major incursion into Bushwick back in August, when Mayor de Blasio revealed possible plans to expand the Citi Bike network east ahead of April’s L-train shutdown.

The proposed five stations would be slightly less than industry standards, which call for at least 28 stations per square mile. And locals argue more stations are needed because of the neighborhood’s coming transit apocalypse.

“Everyone was surprised by the low number,” said Transportation Alternatives senior organizer Erwin Figueroa, who attended the presentation to Brooklyn Community Board 4. “There’s another half of the community that’s not receiving this at all. These are areas that are poorer and have less access to transportation options.”

When the L train shuts down, most displaced riders will opt for other subway lines or substitute shuttle bus service over the Williamsburg Bridge. Riders wanting to avoid the crowds on mass transit may opt to bike: DOT anticipates the number of people cycling over the bridge each day to double, from around 7,000 today, and perhaps triple.

The five new bike-share stations coming to Bushwick. Image: DOT/Motivate
The five new bike-share stations coming to Bushwick. Image: DOT/Motivate

For many of those potential new cyclists, Citi Bike represents a low-cost, low-burden way to get into the city without having to worry about locking up or maintaining a bike. Unfortunately, it won’t be an accessible option for most residents of Bushwick and nearby Ridgewood.

“It’s going to be crowded, so there will be more reasons not to take the train,” said Bushwick resident Bianca Dorsey, who uses a bike to get around the city.

Of the five new Bushwick stations, two are near the M train and two are near L train stations that will remain open during the shutdown (though not providing service to Manhattan).

Viewed in context, Bushwick’s five Citi Bike docks are quite isolated from the rest of Citi Bike’s network, which ends just to the west in Brooklyn Community Board 1. There, the company plans to add more docks ahead of the L train closure, but only one new station [PDF].

The "in-fill" plan for neighboring Community Board 1 isn't so great either.
The “in-fill” plan for neighboring Community Board 1 isn’t so great either.

The city just signed a contract with Citi Bike operator Motivate to triple the size of its fleet and double its geographic reach across the entire city. Reached for comment, both DOT and Citi Bike-operator Motivate, which was recently purchased by Lyft, pointed to those future plans for expansion into Bushwick and other neighborhoods.

“This plan reflects what Motivate had agreed to prior to the closing of the agreement wherein Lyft funds a $100-million expansion,” said DOT spokesperson Lolita Avila.

“These new Bushwick stations should be only considered a first step in those plans — to immediately prepare for next spring’s L tunnel closure,” Avila added.

There is no timeline for Citi Bike five-year expansion beyond a commitment to meet with local stakeholders beginning next year.

“These neighborhoods have been asking for Citi Bike,” said Figueroa. “For them to come in just four months before the train shuts down really doesn’t address the concerns of people who live in this neighborhood.”

The L-train shutdown, which begins in April, will divert more than 225,000 riders every day, according to the MTA and DOT.