Photo Courtesy of DOT
This summer, dockless bike share pilot programs will be organized in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx,
and Staten Island
By Michael V. Cusenza
Communities in the four so-called outer boroughs will host dockless bike share pilot programs this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.
Starting in July, the programs are set to roll out in the Rockaways in Queens and Coney Island, Brooklyn. Later in the summer, the Bronx and Staten Island will receive bike share pilots, the City said.
Unlike Citi Bike, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this month, these pilots will not require physical docking stations, instead allowing for all essential system and locking components to be installed in the bicycles themselves; bikes can be rented using a mobile phone, usually for $1 or $2 per ride. The Department of Transportation laid out the preliminary timeline for the programs:
• June: DOT will go to the geographically relevant community boards in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and on Staten Island to present plans and establish final boundaries for each of the pilot areas. During this period, DOT has indicated that it will also select the companies assigned to each of the areas.
• July: Pilot will begin as bikes start to arrive on a rolling basis to neighborhood streets, with the ultimate goal to have a total of 200 bikes that offer half-hour rides and that remain within the boundaries of each of the four catchment areas during the pilot period. Some of the dockless bikes are expected to be pedal-assist bicycles.
• During Pilot Period (timing may vary by area): DOT will evaluate companies’ compliance with pilot requirements around data accessibility and user privacy. Evaluation criteria will also include the safety, availability, and durability of the bikes.
• Fall 2018: After September, DOT will work with local stakeholders to extend or discontinue pilots based on performance. In the evaluation period, DOT has said that it will also make a determination on future steps, including the possible addition of pilots in different or expanded geographic areas.
Last December, the City released a Request for Expressions of Interest aimed at bringing bike sharing to neighborhoods outside of Manhattan that Citi Bike had not yet reached. In Queens, Citi Bike docks can only be found in the western part of the World’s Borough, in Astoria and Long Island City.
“By bringing the bike share program to Rockaway, the City is taking a positive step towards allowing residents in all boroughs to participate and enjoy in the successful dockless bike service,” said State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach).
The concept might sound familiar to Forum readers. Last August, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) blasted de Blasio and DOT for ordering a dockless bike sharing company to cease and desist all operations just three days in advance of Ulrich’s press conference welcoming said company to the Rockaway community.
“Please be advised that you do not have the authorization or permission, pursuant to a concession,
franchise, permit, contract or otherwise, required for such operations,” a senior DOT official wrote in the cease-and-desist letter.
“The mayor would rather protect a public monopoly like Citi Bike—which barely exists outside of Manhattan—than expand sensible bike sharing in neighborhoods that need it most,” Ulrich fumed last summer. “New Yorkers are starving for transportation alternatives and Mayor de Blasio shamefully says, ‘Let them eat cake!’”