13 June 2013

Coming To A Kiosk Near Me

Citibike, New York City's bike-share program, will probably be expanded to Western Queens by the end of this year.  So says City Council member Jimmy Van Bremer, who represents the area.

In other words, it's coming to my neighborhood.  The first kiosks will probably be installed by Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum, which are (literally) steps apart--and, ironically, next to a Costco store.

I used to live half a block from the museum.  In the seven years I lived there (2002-2009), I noticed more and more people going to it and to Socrates.  I also noticed that increasing numbers of those people came from Europe, Japan and other parts of the world.  

Those tourists--especially those from Paris and other capitals with extensive mass transportation systems--would be surprised at how difficult it was to reach those places, in spite of their proximity to Manhattan.  Really, you can't get much closer to Manhattan without being in it.  But they're still about a mile from the nearest subway station, and on weekends, only one bus line serves them.  And, it seems, the buses run every hour.

So, Socrates and Noguchi would seem to be great places for Citibike.  Socrates is popular with cyclists, as one can bring his or her bike into the park,  touch the sculptures and installations, and enjoy a little picnic by the river.  I have done that many times.

However, for Citibike to be practical, other kiosks will need to be installed near the subway stations--unless Citibike plans to increase the 30-minute time limit (45 minutes for annual members).  Most people, especially those who are not regular cyclists, would need half an hour, or maybe twenty or twenty-five minutes just to get to or from Manhattan by bike.  Socrates and Noguchi are halfway between the Queensborough (59th Street) and RFK (Triboro) Bridges, both of which let cyclists off on the easternmost extreme of the island.  

Of course, if anyone wants to use Citibike for commuting or transportation, the things I've mentioned are even more critical.  And, of course, that begs the question of whether said commuters and errand-runners would ride the bikes into and out of Manhattan, or to the subway stations.

Don't get me wrong:  I'd be happy to see Citibike come to Queens.  I simply think that its planners have to re-think the current limitations of the program in order to make it practical, let alone enjoyable.

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