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While DOT plans for Citi Bike in Astoria, Long Island City left in limbo

Nov. 25, 2013 By Christian Murray

Officials from the Department Transportation announced Tuesday that they are in the early phases of planning for the expansion of Citi Bike into Astoria.

However, don’t expect to see a plethora of blue bikes on the roads in Astoria any time soon.

DOT officials said it is likely to be 18 to 24 months before Citi Bike stations are in placed in the neighborhood and the program official rolls out. Stephanie Levinsky, an official with the DOT, said planning for a specific neighborhood is a “long and involved public process.”

The program, which was launched in many parts of the New York in May, however, has already brought a great deal frustration to many Queens residents. It was supposed to have been launched in Long Island City earlier this year, but there have been constant delays.

Therefore, Queens still does not have one station in the entire borough.

“They were supposed to be in Long Island City earlier this year—but then [Superstorm] Sandy interrupted the date [since some of the bicycles were destroyed],” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.  “Then we were told they would be here by fall,” he said. “Now they have stopped talking about dates.”

The DOT officials who were discussing the Astoria program at the Community Board 1 meeting last week elected not to provide a date as to when the bicycles would arrive in Long Island City—and focused solely on the Astoria plan.

The first step in bringing the bikes to Astoria involved determining the stations, which requires feedback from the community board, elected officials and local stakeholders. Additionally, residents who are unable to attend stakeholder meetings will be able to participate through the DOT’s interactive web portal.

Levinsky, who will be scouring the area for locations herself, said she will be relying heavily on the community feedback.

She said that the DOT has already met with state Sen. Mike Gianaris and he is an advocate for putting the Citi Bike stations along the N/Q train line—and from there, riders could find stations in the residential areas.

“Citibike will be a great addition to Astoria,” State Sen. Mike Gianaris said. “It has a growing cycling community and is already one of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in the city.”

Citi Bike stations that are deemed failures are able to be relocated quickly, Levinsky said, since they are not drilled into the ground. Instead, their weight keeps them in place—allowing them to be picked up and carted off to a better location.

She said that the stations can be placed on the sidewalks or on the streets.

“If you tell us you really don’t want us to take your parking we will do our very best not to take your parking,” Levinsky said.

She said in Brooklyn, residents want them placed on the sidewalks, since parking spaces are viewed as vital. In Manhattan, residents are not as concerned about on-street parking.

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