By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Citi Bike will be increasing the number of bikes and docking points, as well as the number of valet stations, around transit points near 14th Street starting next spring to help mitigate the L train shutdown.
The plan, announced by the mayor’s office last Thursday, will add 1,250 bikes and 2,500 new docking points to the network to increase coverage in some of the city’s busiest neighborhoods for the bikeshare and added valet stations will increase service during peak hours. The process of offering denser coverage, known as “infill,” will involve enlarging current Citi Bike stations as well as the addition of new docking stations.
The 10 percent expansion of service will begin in Manhattan for the first stage of its plan, focusing on the neighborhoods from Canal to 59th Streets, a DOT spokesperson told Town & Village. Specific locations for the new docks have not yet been announced.
Valet stations are docking points near transit hubs in Midtown and Lower Manhattan that are staffed by Citi Bike employees who can corral extra bikes during peak hours when docks fill up and empty quickly and the bikeshare is planning to add up to 10 new valet stations in preparation for the shutdown.
The new valet stations will be along the 14th Street corridor and adjacent to the East River ferry stops in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as at Citi Bike docks in the Lower East Side and Williamsburg.
Mayor de Blasio’s office also announced that 1,000 pedal-assist bicycles will be added to the fleet temporarily for the L train shutdown for “shuttle service” between Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan, with two specified pedal-assist docking stations in each borough. The addition of the pedal-assist bikes is primarily to benefit riders traveling between Brooklyn and Manhattan to more easily climb hills like the incline on the Williamsburg Bridge bike path. Specific locations for these four docks haven’t been announced yet.
The DOT also announced the adoption of a new rule last Thursday clarifying the legality of pedal-assist bicycles, which have an electric motor that only engages while a rider is pedaling and don’t go faster than 20 miles per hour, while specifying that throttle-controlled e-bikes often used by restaurant delivery people remain illegal.
The DOT and Citi Bike said they will be coordinating with local elected officials, community groups and local community boards, including Community Board 6, as part of the community engagement process.
“The upcoming L train closure highlights just how crucial alternative modes of transportation are for New Yorkers,” City Council Member Keith Powers said in response to the plan. “The 1,250 additional Citi Bikes and focus on rebalancing stock will allow more of my constituents to benefit from the program.”