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Citi Bike Expands With Gowanus Facility Amid Calls for More Service

 City Bike's new Gowanus facility is the base of its field bike mechanics and station technicians.
City Bike's new Gowanus facility is the base of its field bike mechanics and station technicians.
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DNAinfo/Caroline Spivack

GOWANUS — Citi Bike has rolled into Gowanus with a sprawling new facility that is the home base for workers repairing busted bikes and docks. 

The 14th Street hub between Third and Fourth avenues is the newest of three facilities where workers fix up more than 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations. The company's offices remain headquartered in Sunset Park, while the new Gowanus shop is the base for bike mechanics and station technicians who recycle the repaired bikes, said Jay Walder, the president and CEO of Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike.

"Our new Gowanus home will ensure that Citi Bike staff has all the tools necessary to keep the system running smoothly," said Walder, who was previously the CEO of the MTA.

Bad bikes

The new Gowanus shop is the base of operations for bike mechanics and station technicians who keep the service rolling. (DNAinfo/Caroline Spivack)

Since May, more than 174 workers have been dissecting docking stations and tuning up the two wheelers, which are each typically used for seven spins a day among roughly 57,000 daily trips citywide.

The site is staffed by 65 Transit Workers Union members who make up 78 percent of Citi Bike's overall workforce of 450. 

But it's not all broken bikes and piles of parts in the Gowanus shop. A wall dubbed the "Wheels of Fame" shows off celebrities spotted riding Citi Bikes.

Wheels of Fame

The "Wheels of Fame" wall is packed with framed photos of celebrities spotted riding Citi Bikes including Leonardo DiCaprio, Alexander Skarsgård and Kenny G. (DNAinfo/Caroline Spivack)

An additional repair hub is slated for Bushwick, officials said. Bike docks are planned to come to Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Garden and Crown Heights, as well as Astoria and up to Harlem's 130th Street in Manhattan. 

READ MORE: Final Citi Bike Locations Unveiled in Crown Heights Expansion [MAP]

But much of the city, including Staten Island and The Bronx, are without the bike sharing program and politicians were vocal about pushing Motivate to expand during Tuesday's unveiling of the Gowanus center.

"I am very eager to make sure residents of South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Sunset Park also have the opportunity to participate in the system," said Councilman Brad Lander. "I will continue to be an advocate in enabling Citi Bike to expand." 

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams took that sentiment a step further with calls for the service to cruise into neighborhoods across New York. 

"The entire city is ready to enjoy what Citi Bike has to offer," said Adams. 

Citi Bike has a contract with the Department of Transportation to operate in New York until 2029, but even though the program has yet to expand across the five boroughs, city officials last week put the brakes on a competitor's plan to launch a bike sharing pilot in Queens.

The city has not engaged other bike sharing services to meet demands, according to a DOT spokesman. 

"Motivate’s contract gives it exclusivity for phases 1 and 2, the only installed phases," wrote DOT spokesman Scott Gaskell in an emailed statement to DNAinfo New York. "There are no other agreements in place with any company for any area beyond that." 

Despite repeated requests from DNAinfo New York, Citi Bike and DOT officials declined to elaborate on if the monopolistic terms of the contract for the bike share service extend to the entire city. 

City officials declined to comment on what mechanisms are in place to ensure Citi Bike steadily expands across New York City and which rogue bike share companies DOT has on its radar as looking to bust the Citi Bike monopoly.

A DOT official did note that once Citi Bike's contract is up, a bidding process to operate where the system has already rolled out will commence.

Would-be competitor Spin, which offers GPS-activated, self-locking bikes instead of Citi Bike's familiar docking stations, was sent a cease-and-desist letter by the city Friday to halt its planned Rockaway Beach rollout Monday.

The service would have filled the area's bike share void and should have been allowed to operate in Rockaway Beach and across the city, Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich said at the Monday press conference that was originally planned to kick off Spin's service.

"If Citi Bike has an exclusive franchise right to operate their bikes throughout the city then they need to be in all five boroughs. It's not fair," said Ulrich. "Competition is good and there's no reason why Citi Bike and Spin — and perhaps even other companies — could not exist in harmony, simultaneously and let the consumers and the bike riders decide what company and what bikes they want to ride."