With the goal of providing more transit options to future victims of the L train shutdown, the Department of Transportation announced an expansion of Citi Bike on Wednesday—including, for the first time in the city, some battery-powered pedal-assist bikes.
According to the DOT, the company will add a total of 2,500 docking points and 1,250 bikes on either side of the Williamsburg Bridge, where bike commutes are expected to surge when the 15-month service stoppage between Bedford Avenue and 8th Avenue begins next April. Citi Bike has also promised to add 1,000 pedal-assist bikes, which they say will serve as "a new, temporary 'shuttle' service over the Williamsburg Bridge."
The pedal-assist e-bikes differ from the less expensive and technically illegal throttle-assisted models favored by delivery drivers, which Mayor Bill de Blasio has cracked down on in the last year. A NY Mag reporter who rode the Citi Bike prototype last month described it as "a heavy, thick-wheeled beast, familiar except for the little battery-powered angel that nudges you gently along as you pedal, so that you feel as though you’re always traveling downhill...As soon as I travel a block, it’s obvious that these machines make biking instantly more practical for longer trips, older riders, and anyone who would rather not huff up a hill or arrive in disarray."
Sounds pretty nice to me, a person currently sitting in an overly-air conditioned office as a puddle of Williamsburg Bridge-induced sweat slowly dries on my back.
The expansion follows the announcement last month that a dockless bike share pilot is coming to Coney Island and the Rockaways, as well as parts of the Bronx and Staten Island this summer.
"In addition to bringing bike share to every borough of New York City this summer under an innovative pilot of dockless services, we are committed to strengthening Citi Bike," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "Over the next year, riders can expect to see more bikes, docks, and pedal-assist bikes, and temporary valet stations that will together help meet demand during the L train shut down next year."
Some Brooklyn residents, meanwhile, are wondering what's taking so long. In response to the news of the Williamsburg/Manhattan expansion, City Council Member Rafael Espinal told Gothamist, "While I am encouraged that the de Blasio administration and Citi Bike are working together to expand bike sharing, and even permit certain electric assisted bikes, I'd like to see more Citi Bikes expand to Bushwick and other neighborhoods along the L train line."
"We cannot forget about these neighborhoods that do not have the luxury of being a stone-throw from Manhattan across the Williamsburg bridge and must also get access to the various available methods of transportation as their neighbors," he added.
We agree! Bring pedal-assisted Citi Bikes to Bushwick, and save my coworkers from my backsweat.