BY JON CRONIN
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for companies to bring a “dockless” bike-sharing system into the outer boroughs.
Citi Bike was implemented in Manhattan in 2013, but has yet to reach transportation-starved areas such as eastern Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.
According to the mayor’s office, “Bikes may be parked and rented from any point within the service area boundary where bicycle parking is permitted.”
“With so many companies anxious to prove their skills in serving our city’s diverse, demanding and lucrative market, this RFEI allows us to create different pilots and evaluate what works best, allowing us to move far beyond the limited neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens that Citi Bike now so ably serves,” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
The mayor’s office estimated that this “dockless” model could bring the Citi Bike program to underserved parts of the city faster than the current system. There will be pilot programs during which the city investigates its feasibility, while testing whether bikes will obstruct sidewalks, possible pricing, maintenance and capability of program merchants.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) criticized the mayor and the DOT after he invited another “dockless” biking program to the Rockaways this summer and the company running it was sent a “cease and desist” letter by the DOT. He praised the new effort by the mayor and the DOT.
“Residents in outer-borough communities are starving for transportation options, and dockless bike share can help to fill the void,” said Ulrich. “As a vocal advocate for the expansion of public bike sharing, I am thrilled DOT is looking to bring affordable and eco-friendly bike sharing to geographically-isolated neighborhoods like the Rockaways.”
U.S. Rep Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) noted the need for transportation beyond driving and subways.
“Cycling will need to be a prominent part of our mix of transportation options as the city works to reduce traffic congestion and mitigate climate change,” she said.
The mayor touted the success of the original BikeNYC program.
“These past four years, we’ve strengthened Citi Bike and doubled its size,” he said. “Now, it’s time to take the next big step and bring safe, reliable and affordable bike sharing to even more of the city.”
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.