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UWS Pushes For Citi Bikes Despite Being 'Spoiled' by Transit Options

By Emily Frost | January 30, 2015 2:13pm | Updated on February 2, 2015 8:53am
 Citi Bike stations should not go along crowded corridors like Broadway, residents said. They also called for stations near cultural hubs like Lincoln Center.  
UWS Citi Bikes
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Locals are eagerly awaiting the arrival of hundreds of Citi Bikes within the next two years — even while admitting the amenity-rich neighborhood is already easy to get around in.

After a delayed rollout, roughly 135 Citi Bike stations are planned for the Upper West and Upper East Sides, between 59th and 130th streets, as part of a second phase expansion, Department of Transportation and Citi Bike officials said at a meeting with with about 120 local residents Thursday.

And while some like lifelong Upper West Side John Simpson argued that the bikes should hit the streets "sooner rather than later," others acknowledged that the neighborhood is already chock-full of transportation options.

"We’re very spoiled because of the high density of services," said longtime resident Conrad Levinson.

With tons of taxis and plenty of reliable public transit options, as well as retail shops, drugstores and grocery stores all in easy walking distance, there's not great urgency for another transportation method, he and others said. 

Still, "we’re all awaiting this with bated breath," said Community Board 7 chairwoman Elizabeth Caputo.

Officials couldn't give a more specific time frame for the installation of stations in the neighborhood, other than to say they will arrive before the end of 2017. The DOT is currently working to install stations in Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Each Citi Bike docking station, which accommodates 33 bikes on average, will be installed every few blocks on every avenue. They must go in places that are accessible 24 hours a day, eliminating Central Park and Riverside Park as options, a Citi Bike spokeswoman said. 

Though the DOT and Citi Bike aim to saturate the neighborhood with bikes, they've asked residents to weigh in on where exactly they should and should not go. 

That question brought residents out by the dozens Thursday night, poring over maps of the local grid and flagging corners where adding a Citi Bike station would either be useful or spell disaster for congestion and safety. 

The DOT will take the suggestions, which can also be submitted online, and present the most popular and feasible ones to the community board for it to weigh in on at a later date.

On Thursday, residents suggested bikes go next to the cultural hubs of the neighborhood, including Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History and the New-York Historical Society. 

They also said the western part of the district, specially in the West 60s, was challenging to get to by public transportation and that the demand for ways to get around would increase with the development of the Riverside Center and Collegiate School moving its campus to that area. 

Others called for better bike infrastructure — like a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue so cyclists could safely travel north — before any Citi Bikes hit the streets. 

Residents placed red flags on the West 96th Street and Broadway intersection, the site of recent pedestrian deaths, noting that the addition of Citi Bikes would make the corner less safe and more congested.

Levinson wanted to make sure officials knew there was one thing they must do if they want the installation process to be a smooth ride.

"Don’t try to take one parking spot, that’s the one thing you can’t do," he said. "Upper West Siders love their parking spaces."