The Citi Bike Expansion Plan is Great; Here’s How to Do It Right

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by Tracey Capers

New Yorkers across the city have reason to celebrate, with the news that the Citi Bike network is expanding to the Bronx and deeper into Brooklyn and Queens -- bringing the benefits of bike share to every corner of Manhattan and extending its reach into neighborhoods like Morrisania, Flatbush, and Jackson Heights.

Citi Bike’s expansion into more communities of color not only represents a huge opportunity for improving New Yorkers’ lives; it will help set the tone for cities across the country and the world.

It’s important that we get this right, scaling Citi Bike’s existing equity programs alongside this massive infrastructural investment.

Through my work with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the nation’s first community development corporation (CDC) focused on promoting the economic futures of black families in Central Brooklyn, I’ve been on the front lines of encouraging ridership and promoting a feeling of system ownership among black and Latinx residents.

We’ve hosted bike rides, worked with the city Department of Transportation to give away helmets, promoted low-cost memberships, and cultivated community champions; with our seat at the table, we have pushed for policies to benefit communities of color, like changing pricing for SNAP recipients and ensuring that youth have access to Citi Bike.

We adapted as we learned, and we’ve had real results. Ridership in Bed Stuy is growing faster than systemwide since we signed on as a Citi Bike partner. One year ago, we joined Citi Bike and Healthfirst in launching Reduced Fare Bike Share. More than 3,400 low-income New Yorkers have signed up for Citi Bike for only $5 a month.

Here’s what we’ve learned -- I hope it provides guidance in Citi Bike’s new phase of expansion:

First, community engagement must be real and consistent.

There are complex reasons that ridership is lower in majority-minority neighborhoods than others, at least in part due to the suspicion that the system isn’t meant for everyone.

To read more, visit the Gotham Gazette