Talks start to bring Citi Bike to the Bronx

Citi Bike has expanded its reach to help essential workers.

While the bright-blue Citi Bikes have become ubiquitous in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens, the other boroughs have been treated like orphans.

That may change in the coming months, as Motivate, the company that manages the bike-share program, is in early talks with city officials to bring the bikes to the Bronx and Staten Island.

The plan put forth by Motivate calls for an additional 6,000 bikes, with 4,000 of them targeted for the Bronx and Staten Island.

Those boroughs will need to have sidewalk docks installed to allow residents to rent the bikes.

The company said it can carry out the plan without using city tax dollars, if the city makes a few concessions to its contract.

In exchange for the expanded service, the company is asking the city to waive the previously required payments to offset lost parking meter revenue and for more leeway in meeting performance benchmarks.

They also want exclusivity rights as the only bike-share program in the city to avoid competition from start-ups that could glut the market.

The concessions are being requested to offset lower projected initial usage in the new boroughs than the current ones where ridership is thriving.

Dani Simons, director of Communications and External Affairs at Motivate, said the company was committed to the goal of expanding Citi Bike to all five boroughs.

“We are flexible in how to achieve it, including finding a sustainable way forward without public funding,” Simons said.

A spokesperson for the NYC Department of Transportation said no decision had been made about a Bronx expansion, but did not rule out the possibility.

“We are focused right now on an ambitious expansion plan this coming season, but we are always discussing with Motivate ways to improve the system,” the spokesperson said.

City council members who asked about the proposal seemed to be in favor of the program coming to the borough.

Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who represents the densely populated areas of Morris Heights, University Heights, Fordham and Kingsbridge, said he has supported inclusion into the program since its inception in 2013, and that the time was right for the bike-sharing program to expand to the borough.

“This program must be made available to all New Yorkers and especially to lower-income people for whom public transit has become unaffordable and private transportation is often out of reach, Cabrera said. ”Continuing the expansion of Citi Bike is an important step in achieving transportation equity. The Bronx deserves the same amenities as other boroughs.”

Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who represents Hunts Point and much of the south Bronx, said the program would not only bring new transportation alternatives to the borough but would also have health benefits.

“We hear everyday from residents who want to utilize bike share in our borough,” Salamanca said. “Now, it’s only a matter of dollars and cents, as well as siting good locations for kiosks. But we feel confident this will happen sooner rather than later.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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