With all of the talk about income inequality in newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s New York City, the unequal distribution of Citi Bike stations thus far has been facing more scrutiny. Unlike subways and buses, which service all kinds of neighborhoods in the city, the bike sharing system is currently concentrated in mostly affluent parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. So what can be done to spread the Citi Bike wealth to lower-income New Yorkers living in the outer boroughs? Urban planner David Perlmutter recently came up with some suggestions.




Image © Joseph Buxbaum

First, some statistics: Citi Bike is the largest bike sharing program in the United States with 6,000 bikes docked at 330 stations in Manhattan below 60th Street and parts of Brooklyn. There are 93,000 annual members and 288,000 one-time daily users so the bike sharing scheme is uber popular. There are expansion plans in the works for another 4,000 bikes and 270 stations moving further north in Manhattan to 79th Street; more Brooklyn neighborhoods including Greenpoint, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens; and into Queens for the first time with stations in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Astoria.

But with no new funding sources after 2014, there are currently no solid expansion plans for low-income communities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

Perlmutter’s four recommendations include transferring Citi Bike operations to a public agency such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) or Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to increase revenue and offer bigger discounts to low-income members; offering free Citi Bike memberships to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents; making discounted Citi Bike memberships available to the city’s 594,000 college students and 510,912 students in grades 7-12; and partnering with major local employers to offer a bike share membership as a job perk.

If these recommendations are followed through on, eventually bike sharing will be something the entire city can enjoy as another step in de Blasio’s vision of a united New York.

+ Citi Bike

Via Untapped Cities

Lead image via Oran Viriyincy