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Channing Prend for Spectator

District 7 City Council member Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, the new chair of the City Council’s transportation committee, hope to bring Citi Bikes uptown.

Residents of Upper Manhattan will be riding around on Citi Bikes if local politicians have their way. 

Citi Bikes stations are heavily concentrated in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, but there are no bike stations above 60th Street

But District 7 City Council member Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, the new chair of the City Council's transportation committee, said that they would like to bring more bikes uptown.

“I'm a huge supporter of Citi Bike,” Levine said. “My complaint is that I want neighborhoods besides downtown to benefit.” 

Rodriguez mentioned his hopes of expanding the program in his State of Northern Manhattan address on Sunday afternoon. 

“We need to determine how best to revitalize the program and bring it to more communities like ours eager to participate,” Rodriguez said. 

When Citi Bike first started up last year, there were plans to expand bike stations on the Upper West Side up to 79th Street, but serious financial setbacks in its first year of operation have put a hold on that expansion.

“We all know Citi Bike has been tremendously popular with New Yorkers,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “But there have been significant financial and operational issues, including redistribution of bikes to where the riders are, and technology issues, resulting in malfunctioning stations and failed credit card transactions.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that he will not provide public funding to bailout the ailing bike share program. 

When the expansion is eventually realized, Levine has proposed to alter the current plan so that the stations will reach up to 125th Street.  

“I'm not calling for more stations,” Levine said. “I'm just suggesting to spread out the stations under the existing expansion plan so that they go farther north.” 

Levine said that he believes that District 7 could be one of the highest usage areas in the city if the program were implemented. 

“This is a community that has no access to Citi Bike as of now, and I think this could be one of the busiest areas in all of the city,” Levine said. “People could connect to the 1 train and the West Harlem waterfront.”

According to Trottenberg, Levine's plan may not be possible due to the logistics of the rebalancing process. However, she said that once the company's finances are stabilized, expansion to Upper Manhattan is on the table.

“We expect the system's operator, NYC Bike Share, to resolve these issues so the system can perform effectively and ultimately expand,” Trottenberg said. “Everything is under consideration, from improving operations to new sponsorships to additional financing.”

Local residents and students were divided in their views of the bike sharing program when interviewed on Monday. Some said they thought the expansion was a great idea.  

“I think it would be a good way to travel those middle distances that are too far to walk but not far enough to take the subway,” Siran Jiang, CC '16, said. 

“We need them,” Morningside Heights resident Tom Fogg said of Citi Bikes. “They could be used for riding to the park and along the river.”

Others said they felt the expansion was unnecessary.  

“I think it's the same thing as yellow cabs, below 110th Street,” Washington Heights resident Jeremy Ladson said. “If you're a tourist using it to cross the park it makes sense.”

The timeline and specifics of the expansion are still unclear. Still, Rodriguez and Levine said that they're committed to bringing Citi Bikes to the rest of the city.     

“We want this to be a service available to all New Yorkers,” Rodriguez said. “Accessibility is one of our primary focuses.”

Eva Kalikoff contributed reporting.

channing.prend@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ChanningPrend

Citi Bike transportation Mark Levine Ydanis Rodriguez Bill de Blasio City Council bike share
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