A longtime dream for Long Island City residents finally came true as Citi Bike made its grand entrance into the neighborhood and Queens for the first time.
Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, the Department of Transportation and local elected officials and leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the borough’s first-ever Citi Bike station located on Center Boulevard right on the waterfront.
This station, which is the first of 12 in Long Island City, is part of the Citi Bike expansion announced last October which is expected to double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes throughout the city over the next two years.
“New Yorkers love Citi Bike. It has transformed the way we get around. It’s providing an alternative that doesn’t just move, but it moves and it changes at the pace of our city,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate. “But now we will see the real potential of Citi Bike as it moves out to more communities and more New Yorkers can experience the freedom of bike share from Long Island City and Astoria, to Bed Stuy and Gowanus, Red Hook, Harlem and many other places.”
There will be 91 new stations installed by the end of the summer during the first phase of the expansion, which also includes stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
Stations in Long Island City, which will be installed in the next couple of weeks, will be found in locations such as by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, in front of MoMa PS1, next to the LIC Flea & Food and by Queensboro Plaza. There will also be a station by the Queensbridge Houses.
“We never ever stopped believing that this could happen because it’s good for Queens and if it’s good for Queens its good for New York City,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This is a tremendous victory [not only] for Long Island City but for all of Queens. It is one that we never ever gave up on. This is a dream come true. This moment is a dream come true.”
Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in 2013, but was pushed back after equipment damage from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.
Once all stations are installed by the end of the summer, the DOT and Motivate will begin the community outreach and planning process for the next phase of expansion, which includes stations in Astoria.
“The inclusion of Long Island City was a long time coming but I am glad it has finally arrived. Bike share will allow people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I am thrilled to see western Queens given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Citi Bike and look forward to its further expansion into more of our neighborhoods.”
Along with the expansion, Motivate has replaced the software that powers Citi Bike, replaced software and hardware at all exiting stations and docking points, and added 1,000 new and upgraded bikes to its fleet. An additional 1,400 bikes will be added this summer to stock up the new stations.
The bikes, which were developed in partnership with Olympic bike designer Ben Serotta, have new features, including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats.
To celebrate the program’s expansion, Citi Bike is offering a $25 discount, up until Aug. 31, to new members. For more information visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.