Third Avenue and 149th Street in Melrose/Image via Claudia Corcino via Twitter

Ever since the popular Citi Bike bike sharing program launched in NYC back in 2013, Welcome2TheBronx has been highly critical of initially avoiding low income and communities of color.

But for months we’ve known that Citi Bike has been in talks with Bronx organizations to finally bring the service to our borough and we’re finally glad that we can share the news with you.

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Each year as Citi Bike announced future expansion plans, The Bronx was never a part of their plans and to add insult to injury, New Jersey got them before us.

Let that sink in: New Jersey.

Now, there are plans for as many as 2,000 bikes to hit our streets after much pressure from our communities, politicians, and organizations such as The Third Avenue BID which has been in discussion with the company for several months now.

149th Street and Grand Concourse / Image via Claudia Corcino via Twitter

“The entire Bronx, and more specifically the South Bronx, deserves transportation equity.” said Michael Brady, executive director of the Third Avenue BID in Melrose.

“For decades our communities and neighborhoods have suffered from community disinvestment, now we must rally and demand equal opportunities for transportation alternatives. The Citi Bike program has proved that if communities are given access to transportation alternatives that are operated by a consistent and safe bike share company those same communities become healthier and thrive. The conversation surrounding Citi Bike expansion is exciting and the Third Avenue BID welcomes it to the South Bronx.” added Brady.

And indeed it’s about equal opportunities for our neighborhoods and for the residents of the South Bronx who are in the poorest congressional district in the nation, this may be an economic relief for many who are seeking alternatives to public transit.While annual membership is $163 per year for unlimited access with the first 45 minutes of your trips at no extra charge, residents of NYC’s public housing at NYCHA pay only $5 a month or $60 for an entire year.

Considering the cost of a ride on the bus or subway system with ever increasing failures, riding a bike becomes much more attractive.

As for the health aspects, The Bronx already suffers from the worst health outcomes in the state putting us at the bottom as the 62nd and unhealthiest county of New York State.

Bicycles aren’t all that affordable especially when you start to factor in basic maintenance so for low-income New Yorkers and especially NYCHA residents, this is an excellent opportunity for them to be able to enjoy the health benefits that come with bike riding along with the convenience for a fraction of the cost.

And to the people who immediately complain about their “tax dollars subsidizing” such programs, think of the long term: Better health. The Bronx has been stuck in a rut as the unhealthiest borough in NYC and county in the state!

Further north in Fordham, Daniel Bernstein, Deputy Director of the Fordham Road BID told Welcome2TheBronx, “Fordham is the largest shopping district in the Bronx with so many stores and people coming here by different modes of transportation like the subway, bus, and with a bike lane along The Concourse, it makes 100% sense for Fordham and other areas to have access to Citi Bike. I’m very excited to see it happen for The Bronx. “

Fordham BID / Image via Paul Goebel on Twitter

Transportation Alternatives, an organization founded in 1973 to promote bicycling, walking, and public transportation over automobiles has been extremely active in creating a broad coalition across not just The Bronx but NYC to make sure everyone has access to this service.

In a statement issued to Welcome2TheBronx, Transportation Alternatives Bronx Organizer Erwin Figueroa said, “We’re pleased to learn that Motivate, operator of Citi Bike, is in discussions with the de Blasio administration in regards of expanding Citi Bike to all 5 boroughs. The proposal to bring 4,000 bikes to the Bronx and Staten Island would help provide a foundation for the system to expand to currently unserviced areas and will help address the transportation inequities faced by these two boroughs. Making cycling more accessible to residents of the Bronx will also help improve the borough’s health outcomes and gives residents another transportation option.”

At this moment, exact locations of where the service will be available has yet to be made public but we do know that they have been actively scouting locations and meeting with local organizations, including the Third Avenue BID in Melrose.

When asked further about the what Citi Bike would mean for the Third Avenue BID at The Hub, Michael Brady added, “Imagine a future that efficiently and safely connects Randall’s Island to Mott Haven and Hunts Point, to the bustling commercial district of the HUB, to community assets like Lincoln Hospital, Hostos Community College, and the Bronx County Court Offices. It should be noted that the Bronx will not be a pawn in a NYC experiment where a lower grade operator facilitates bike shares in the outer boroughs. We will not accept anything other then the high quality bike share program that is currently offered to our Manhattan and Brooklyn peers. ”

“This is not the time for City government to dilute the quality of bike share programs by bringing in currently illicit bike share operators for the sake of closing a better deal. The South Bronx will not accept anything less then our equitable right to transportation services.”

While clearly the entire Bronx will not be covered in the first phase, this is a step in the right direction so that we can eventually have an entire city covered with this alternative means of transportation.

 

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