Pol wants CitiBike to come to Astoria

Pol wants CitiBike to come to Astoria
AP Photo Craig Ruttle
By Chris Engelhardt

In a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city Department of Transportation, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) has requested that CitiBike, New York City’s new bike-share program, be expanded into the neighborhoods of Astoria and Woodside.

In the letter dated July 11, Gianaris said with western Queens’ rapid growth, accompanying transportation needs and residents’ love of cycling, CitiBike is perfect for the area. Since the program’s debut, Gianaris said his office has been deluged with requests for CitiBike in Astoria and Woodside, as well as Sunnyside and Long Island City.

And with community groups, businesses and cyclists in the communities in favor of the program, he is calling for those areas to be included in the program’s expansion.

“I have lived in Astoria my whole life and can attest that it is rapidly emerging as one of New York City’s hottest neighborhoods,” Gianaris wrote. “Western Queens already has limited transportation options; as more and more people flock to this area, the need for transportation alternatives grows clearer. Its residents should also enjoy this healthy and efficient way to move around the city.”

Gianaris’ letter comes after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in June that it is in talks with the DOT about expanding the CitiBike program to areas that will be affected by closures of the G train this summer, including Long Island City and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Discussions are ongoing, an MTA spokeswoman said.

Back in June, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), along with community, civic and business leaders, rallied for CitiBike to be incorporated into Long Island City, Sunnyside, Astoria, Woodside and other areas of western Queens.

A DOT spokesman confirmed the department received Gianaris’ letter and said it will expand the program to areas as funding allows. He said the DOT hopes to bring CitiBike to Long Island City and areas in Brooklyn as soon as possible, citing Hurricane Sandy for the delays. No specific date has been set, he said.

“Those stations will help leverage future expansion into Astoria and other nearby neighborhoods,” he said. “We appreciate the senator’s support for the program and look forward to planning the expansion of CitiBike to his district in the future.”

Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at cengelhardt@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.