By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
While Brooklynites were out enjoying nearly 80-degree weather on Tuesday, the Department of Transportation was busy installing the long-awaited bike racks for the Citi Bike share program throughout the borough.
The first station spotted, outside of the Brooklyn Navy Yard where a pilot program is being tested, was in Bedford-Stuyvesant at Monroe Street and Classon Ave, There were a few others in the area including one at Fulton Street and Grand Avenue as well as another at Bedford Ave and Hancock Street. Crews were also spotted on Classon Avenue installing more.
It's been a long time coming for this bike program that was initially announced in September 2011. Problems with the software and then Superstorm Sandy twice delayed the program which will have thousands of bikes throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan at hundreds of docks. It is expected to finally be launched on May 1.
Bikes can be rented on a 24-hour, 7-day, or annual passes at any bike station starting at $9.95. Bikes can be taken for up to 30 minutes, 45 minutes for annual pass holders, before overtime fees are incurred. After that the charges begin piling up quickly with a two hour ride costing $34.95.
Bikes can be returned to any station. If a station is full a 15-minute extension will be granted and directions will be provided to the next nearest dock.
Riders need not only to monitor how long they have the bikes out, but also need to be vigilant over the bike since you could be hit with upto $1000 "plus administrative fees" for stolen bikes.
Dozens of stations will be located in Brooklyn north of Atlantic Avenue and west of Nostrand Avenue. Each station is solar powered and has a wayfinding map.
Rules each cyclist must follow are plainly spelled out on each bike kiosk. Riders are expected to yield to pedestrians, stay off the sidewalk, obey traffic lights, and ride with traffic. Bike helmets are also strongly recommended, but not provided. Locations where helmets can be purchased are pointed out on the kiosk map though.
The bikes are not there yet, but a sign says that they are, "coming very soon. Seriously." Most checking out the docks were excited by the news. However, a few people who have had docks installed in the front of their houses were not so hot about the news because the bikes are taking up precious parking spots.
“The idea and concept are great, but I don’t like having it on my block,” said Mercedes Jones, who lives across the street from a dock on Monroe Street. “We’re already fighting for spots after five and now they are taking them away from us.”
The bike racks are usually located on sidewalks, aligned diagonally to take up less space, but a few of them are right on the streets and take up as many as four parking spots or more. With anywhere from 19 to 31 bikes at each dock though perhaps people will ditch their cars in favor of the bikes potentially helping out the parking situation. We’ll have to see how the program works when it rolls out in May.