By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Citi Bike, the long-awaited but sometimes-delayed bike-share program that is slated to open 600 bike-sharing “stations” with 10,000 bikes across the city, is now slated to roll out in May with locations in Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, it has been announced online.
The program is sponsored by the city Department of Transportation (DOT), Citibank and Mastercard, and is being implemented by Alta Bicycle Share, which has installed bike-share systems in cities across the U.S.
The program was supposed to be launched last summer, but was postponed due to technical glitches, according to numerous reports. Some of the company’s equipment was also damaged during Hurricane Sandy when it was being stored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to DOT.
A map has been issued showing locations of the bike-sharing stations, with blue dots showing stations that will hopefully be “ready to go,” and gray dots showing stations that are “in the works.”
In Brooklyn, these “gray areas,” as it were, are in Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. There are none in the neighborhoods directly below the Heights, such as Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.
“DOT will continue to work with New Yorkers to refine these station locations,” said the city agency’s web site. “Detailed site selection and planning work continues for Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights (Brooklyn community districts 6, 8 and 9), the Upper West and East Sides (Manhattan districts 8 and 7) and Sunnyside (Queens district 2).”
A spokesperson for the DOT, after an email from the Eagle asking for more detailed information about the cost of the program, the actual rollout date, an opening ceremony, and when the southern areas of the borough would be included, responded, “Our press release and the bike share Web site have the most current information.”
The sites for the bike-sharing stations were chosen in a novel way. Interested people accessed an interactive map on the DOT’s website, then clicked on locations where they thought the stations should be.
Last year, Eagle reporter Zach Campbell wrote, “The bicycles themselves are bulky, heavy and durable cruiser-style bikes with a small front rack for carrying bags. The system is designed for quick trips — for $90 [now $95, as of 2013] per year, users will have unlimited rides lasting between 30 and 45 minutes. There will also be options for full-day rentals and weekly unlimited passes.”
Even though the city gave local residents an opportunity to choose “stations” in an interactive manner, however, some, particularly in the Heights, were somewhat less than pleased.
Also last year year, Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, told this reporter that she felt public input had been inadequate.
“When you have a whole lot of people going online, putting dots on a map, that doesn’t provide enough serious consideration. I don’t think there have been enough meetings to call people out and discuss real specifics.”
Citibank has pledge to underwrite the system to the tune of $41 million.