There are 6,000 bikes imprinted with Citibank logos in downtown Manhattan and a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn. There are zero in Queens. The Wall Street Journal reports that the program is concentrated in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, although a DOT spokesman counters that those are also some of the most densely populated areas as well. And the program won’t be expanding until more funds are raised.
Unlike some other cities, New York’s bike share program is entirely funded by corporations: Citibank Inc. (whose logo also appears on a certain tower in Long Island City) and Mastercard. That’s good news for cash-strapped transit agencies like the Port Authority and MTA, but it infuses the program with a heavy dose of capitalism. And the patterns of heavy ridership tend to mimic those of gentrification. It’s hard to imagine that Williamsburg (where, full disclosure, this writer lives) would have the bike program if Bedford Avenue and its surroundings weren’t such a magnet for tourists, which is fueled in part by its proximity to Manhattan and a substantial influx of new affluent residents.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer of Long Island City told Capital that residents in Western Queens feel “left out.” Do you?