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Sandy’s surge delays bike share yet again


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO BY MICHAEL PANTELIDIS

The city’s previously stalled bike share program is again slamming on the breaks after Sandy.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) announced that its hotly-anticipated Citi Bike will be postponed for a second time to May of 2013 because of damage incurred by the Superstorm.

Sandy’s surge flooded NYCBS’s facility located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River and housed roughly two-thirds of the system’s equipment. According to the DOT, while portions of the equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, several integral electrical components require repairs or replacing.

“DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

The initiative was originally supposed to unveil 7,000 bicycles in March of 2013 after being delayed from the fall because of faulty equipment. The DOT said they intend to increase the number of bikes in the program to 10,000 eventually, but do not presently have a timeline on when that will occur.

According to the DOT, 5,500 bikes will be implemented at 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Long Island City – initially slated to receive bikes in the first phase of the program – will not be included in the May 2013 debut. Western Queens cyclists can expect to see the shiny cobalt cruisers on their blocks sometime towards the end of 2013.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who has long been in support of the bike share program, said the delay is a major disappointment. Regardless of Long Island City’s exclusion from phase one, the councilmember said he would continue to advocate for the active neighborhood to increase its ability to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“I understand the Department of Transportation is doing its best to get the nation’s largest bike share program up and running but leaving Western Queens out of the mix does not seem logical when so many residents here rely on alternate transportation options,” said Van Bramer.

Initially, 10 docking stations were expected to be placed strategically to provide riders access to premier locations in LIC, including waterfront parks, the business district and LaGuardia Community College.

The delay will not impact the program’s $41 million price tag, funded privately by Citi.